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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 36

In an interview with Bloomberg Business Week, President Obama declared himself an agnostic on a middle-class tax increase:

If your deficit commission comes back and says we would recommend raising taxes on households earning less than $250,000 a year, would you accept that as part of a larger deal?

I don't want to prejudge the commission because the whole point of it is to make sure that all ideas are on the table, and let's see what folks can come up with.

What I want to do is to be completely agnostic in terms of solutions. I want everybody to sit down and work off of a common base of facts. And the fact of the matter is that we have a structural deficit that is in place that was there before the recession. The recession has compounded it.

But our real problem is not the spike in spending last year or even the lost revenues last year, as significant as those are. The real problem has to do with the fact that there is just a mismatch between the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out. And that is going to require some big, tough choices that, so far, the political system has been unable to deal with.

This statement represents a change in the president's thinking. He earlier instructed his tax reform commission not to consider such an idea:

Note: The mandate to the PERAB is NOT to recommend a new tax system. They are to consider ideas on tax simplification, better enforcement of tax law, and reforming corporate taxes and to present the pros and cons of potential tax options. They were instructed not to consider options that involve raising taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year. So be mindful of their constraints when submitting ideas.

On April 15, 2009, he said:

For too long, we've seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams. That has to change, and that's the work that we've begun. We've passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow. We've made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 a year will not see their taxes increase by a single dime.

On February 24, 2009, he said:

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime.