Obama Calls For Bush Tax Cut Extensions For Those Making Less Than $250,000

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama called Monday for Congress to pass a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people earning less than $250,000 a year.

"I believe prosperity comes from an economy that's built on a strong and growing middle class," Obama said at the White House, with people described as working Americans standing behind him.

In addition, an Obama campaign official said the president's re-election team will "amplify the president's message on middle-class tax cuts" by hosting a series of events in battleground states all week across the country.

In Las Vegas, for example, local elected officials will discuss Obama's efforts to fight for the middle class, the campaign official said. In Colorado, Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio and state Sen. Gail Schwartz will hold a news conference to discuss the contrasting economic visions of Obama and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The Obama campaign seeks to frame the November contest as a race between the president's policies intended to help restore middle class opportunity versus Romney's policies that it says would primarily benefit corporations and wealthy Americans.

A Romney campaign official criticized Obama's planned announcement as more bad policy from the president in the wake of the weak June jobs report.

"President Obama's response to even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase," said Andrea Saul, the Romney campaign's spokeswoman. "It just proves again that the president doesn't have a clue how to get America working again and help the middle class."

Unlike Obama, Saul continued, Romney "understands that the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone."

Obama signed a bill in 2010 to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts until the end of 2012, citing the need for economic stimulus at the time. He has since vowed he would not permit another extension of the lower tax rates for wealthy Americans.

His proposal Monday would maintain the current lower tax rates for families making up to $250,000 for another year while allowing tax rates to return to 1990s levels for those earning more.

On Sunday, a top Obama campaign adviser said the president is entirely dedicated to ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy at the end of this year.

"He is 100% committed to it," Robert Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union."

The tax breaks are set to expire in what has become known as the "fiscal cliff," a package of spending cuts and the removal of tax breaks that will take place on January 1 if Congress fails to act. In total, they could add up to $7 trillion.

Tax breaks that would end include the Bush tax cuts, middle class protection from the Alternative Minimum Tax and more than 50 "temporary" tax breaks for individuals and businesses that have been on the books for years.

For its part, the White House has proposed raising taxes on the very wealthy as a way to help make a dent in the federal deficit.

Let's make some progress on our spending by doing away with tax cuts for people that quite frankly don't need them, tax cuts that haven't worked and have them pay their fair share," Gibbs told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Obama also has backed the so-called Buffett Rule, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, which would impose a minimum 30% tax rate on those making more than $1 million. The measure was blocked by Senate Republicans in April.

On the campaign trail, the president continues to call for a tax increase on the wealthy, saying they need to pay their "fair share."

"We have got to make sure that those of us who can afford to do a little bit more, because we have been so blessed by this country, that the wealthiest among us can pay a little bit more to help close this deficit," Obama said at a campaign stop in Poland, Ohio, on Friday.

Republicans say the solution to the country's deficit problems should focus on shrinking the size of government, rather than raising taxes on anyone.

"In the wake of another weak jobs report, the president is doubling down on his quixotic call for the same small businesses tax hikes that have been routinely rejected by the House and Senate," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement Monday. "How will these small business tax hikes create jobs?"

Asked on Sunday about the looming fiscal cliff, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be a mistake for Obama to override a Republican-led bill in Congress to extend all the Bush tax cuts for a year, if the measure were to reach the president's desk.

"The president shouldn't veto that," he said on the same CNN program. "This is the same president who signed the very same thing two years ago with the argument to do otherwise would make the economy worse."

CNN's Ashley Killough and Tom Cohen and CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.

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