President Barack Obama ignored a warning from Republicans against proposing tax increases Monday and rolled out a plan to reduce the deficit consisting of a mix of spending cuts and revenue raisers in an combative speech designed to persuade the public to embrace a balanced approach to bringing down the nation’s debt.
In remarks in the White House Rose Garden, Obama drew stark contrasts between Republican’s penchant for backing “tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires” while requiring seniors, the middle class and the poor to tighten their belts and accept sacrifices.
“During this past decade, profligate spending in Washington, tax cuts into multi-millionaires and billionaires, and two wars have turned a record surplus into a massive deficit,” Obama said. “If we don’t act, the debt will eventually crowd out everything else, eventually affecting us from investing in things like education and Medicaid. We need to cut what we can’t afford to pay for things we need.”
Even before Obama delivered the speech, which clearly laid out the differences between both parties in the 2012 contest, Republican leaders were reacting angrily to early reports outlining the President’s “go big” push, calling on Congress to cut deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years and institute automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases if a first target isn’t reached by 2014.
Any reform plan must include revenue increases, he argued, because the tax system isn’t fair, allowing billionaires such as Warren Buffett to have a lower tax rate than middle-class families.
“This plan eliminates tax loopholes that primarily go to the largest business and corporations—tax breaks that small businesses and middle class Americans don’t have to pay,” Obama said. “We can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy, which by the way, were initially talked about as temporary measures.”
“Either we have to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share, or we have to ask seniors to pay more for medicare, or gut education,” he continued. “This is not class warfare. It’s math.”
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