WASHINGTON – In what is shaping up to be yet another down-to-the-wire battle of wills between Republicans and Democrats over financial matters, President Barack Obama told Eyewitness News anchor Karen Swensen Monday that he would veto any extension of the Bush tax cuts that included breaks for families making over $250,000 a year.
The statement from the president came in an interview with Swensen (Eyewitness News at 5, 6 & 10) following a press briefing in which he said he would propose a one-year tax cut extension for taxpaying families making under $250,000 a year.
"I would veto it and here’s why. What I’m proposing is that we give a tax break, that we make sure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans. 98 percent. But to extend tax breaks for that top 2 percent of wealthiest Americans would cost us a trillion dollars over the next decade.
"Now at a time when we’re trying to bring down our deficit to give me a tax break or Warren Buffet a tax break that costs a trillion dollars and 80 percent of that would go to people who make a million dollars or more, that would mean that we would have to cut something. So a trillion dollars would be cut out of student loan programs for kids going to college, for you know projects that take care of our veterans, for projects that benefit our seniors, and that’s not the best way for us to grow our economy.
"So I understand the Republicans disagree with me on this. My attitude is let's go ahead and work on the things we agree on, which is give 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of the small businesses confidence and security that their taxes aren’t going up and that we can have a good debate between now and the election about what we do for that top 2, 3 percent. I’m happy to have that debate but no need to hold hostage most Americans who need some certainty right now."
Obama told a press gathering that he would immediately sign any tax break bill from Congress that had the $250,000 and up exception.
Andrea Saul, a spokesperson for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said Monday that Obama's proposal amounted to a "massive tax increase" and proved that the president "doesn't have a clue how to get America working again and help the middle class."
Obama argues that a tax break for the wealthiest Americans is something that can’t be afforded.
“To give me a tax break, or Warren Buffet a tax break that costs $1 trillion and 80 percent of that would go to people who make $1 million or more, that would mean we would have to cut something. So, $1 trillion would be cut out of student loan programs for kids going to college, for projects that take care of our veterans, for projects that benefit our seniors, and that’s not the best way to grow our economy.”
Obama did say that he would like Congress to send him a tax cut extension that didn’t include the wealthiest Americans, and that after it was signed, he would be glad to have a debate about the merits of a cut for those making more than $250,000, a debate that could be decided in November, at the ballot box.