Obama intensifies pressure on House Republicans to extend middle-class tax cuts

President Barack Obama today intensified pressure on House Republicans to extend the Senate’s middle-class tax cut bill as top GOP leaders took a hard stance against letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the top 2%.

Seizing on the political momentum from his re-election, Obama appealed directly to the American public, asking them to pressure their elected representatives to extend the middle-class tax cut. He warned that unless Congress acts, “every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year.”

Read more: Transcript: President Barack Obama presses Congress to extend the middle-class tax cut

“A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That’s $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now,” said Obama. “I’m asking Americans all across the country to make your voice heard. Tell members of Congress what a $2,000 tax hike would mean to you. Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls. You can tweet it using the hashtag ‘My2K.'”

President Barack Obama delivers remarks regarding the need for Congress to extend the middle class tax cuts, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, Nov. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The tax increase on the middle-class, the President pointed out, would also hurt small businesses and drag down the economy as consumers cut back on their spending.

“Right now, as we speak, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. Everybody’s. And that means that 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime. Ninety-eight percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up by a single dime,” said Obama. “Even the wealthiest Americans would still get a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income. So it’s not like folks who make more than $250,000 aren’t getting a tax break, too. They’re getting a tax break on the first $250,000 just like everybody else.”

The Senate’s bill to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less than $250,000 a year and couples earning less than $500,000 a year was rejected earlier this summer by House Republicans, who insisted that the tax cuts be extended for everyone including the very wealthy.

Although Republicans have recently signaled a willingness to consider tax revenues in a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, GOP leaders today drew a line in the sand against allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top 2% income earners.

Read more: Transcript: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says raising taxes on top 2% is a “non-starter”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the newly-elected Chair of the House Republican Conference, bluntly stated that allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the top 2 marginal rates is a “non-starter”, citing an Ernst & Young report that claimed that doing so would result in 710,000 fewer jobs over a 10-year period.

The Ernst & Young report was commissioned by the Independent Community Bankers of America, the National Federation of Independent Business, the S Corporation Association, and the United States Chamber of Commerce – all organizations that have opposed President Obama’s tax plan. However, an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for individuals earning more than $250,000 would result in about 200,000 fewer jobs being created.

GOP House Speaker John Boehner even publicly rebuked his colleague, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), for suggesting that Republicans should “take the 98% deal right now” and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top 2%.

“I told Tom earlier in our conference meeting that I disagree with him,” said Boehner. “You’re not going to grow the economy if you raise tax rates on the top 2 rates…We’re willing to put revenue on the table as long as we’re not raising rates.”


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