President Obama used his weekly address to say it was necessary to raise taxes on the wealthy to help close the budget deficit.
Obama’s weekly address Saturday echoed some of his comments during a press conference Wednesday in which he singled out tax breaks for corporate jet owners as ripe for elimination (see Obama Prods Republicans on Tax Hikes). The White House is expected to resume negotiations Tuesday over raising the debt ceiling with Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Republicans have insisted that any deal to raise the debt ceiling by about $2 trillion from its current level of $14.3 trillion not include tax increases, while the Obama administration wants a combination of spending cuts and the elimination of some tax breaks.
Obama pointed out that Democrats and Republicans have already identified more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. But he added that it was necessary to also look at every program and tax break in the budget to find places to cut waste and save money.
“It means we’ll have to make tough decisions and scale back worthy programs,” he said. “And nothing can be off limits, including spending in the tax code, particularly the loopholes that benefit very few individuals and corporations. Now, it would be nice if we could keep every tax break, but we can’t afford them. Because if we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or for hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners, or for oil and gas companies pulling in huge profits without our help, then we’ll have to make even deeper cuts somewhere else. We’ve got to say to a student, ‘You don’t get a college scholarship.’ We have to say to a medical researcher, ‘You can’t do that cancer research.’ We might have to tell seniors, ‘You have to pay more for Medicare.’ That isn’t right, and it isn’t smart. We’ve got to cut the deficit, but we can do that while making investments in education, research, and technology that actually create jobs. We can live within our means while still investing in our future.”
Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said in the Republican response that the Presiident should heed the warnings of the financial markets about the skyrocketing debt. “The President and Democrats in Congress must recognize that their game plan is not working," he said. "It’s time to acknowledge that more government and higher taxes is not the answer to our problem. It’s time for bold action and a new plan to address our current crisis.”
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