President Obama on the Tax Cuts ‘Wrestling Match’

By Jenny Schlesinger

Sep 13, 2010 5:00pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: In a backyard town hall in Fairfax, Virginia today, President Obama said that the extension of tax cuts to the middle class could get done this week, were it not for the ongoing “wrestling match” with House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We're still in this wrestling match with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell about the last 2 to 3 percent where on average we'd be giving them $100,000 for people  making a million dollars or more, which in and of itself would be okay, except to do it, we'd have to borrow $700 billion over — over the course of 10 years,” Obama said, “And we just can't afford it.” The president did not make a specific mention to Boehner’s remarks on tax cuts from Sunday, singling possible support for Bush tax cut extensions just for lower incomes but added that the “vast majority” of Democrats believe that middle-class families, those couples making less than $250,000 a year, should get their tax cuts extended.  ”We could get it done this week,” he added. Asked about the likelihood that he could be faced with a remarkably different Congress after the midterm elections, the president said that one of the areas where both parties can work together is on the issue of long-term debt. “I have to say that I understand a  lot of people who are upset on the other side — and some of them were rallying in — in D.C. today — or — or yesterday — I do understand  people's legitimate fears about are we hawking our future to because we're borrowing so much to finance debt and deficits.  I understand that.  You know, they saw the recovery act, they saw TARP, they saw the auto bailout, and they — they — they look at this and all these big, huge numbers adding up. The president said they are right to be concerned, and that there’s an opportunity for both parties to come together to solve the overall problem. "We've also got to look at everything from defense budgets to food stamps.  You name it, we've got to look at it and see are there ways that we can reduce our costs over the long term.  But we can't give away $700 billion to folks who don’t need it, and think somehow that we're going to balance our budget. It's not going to happen." President Obama spoke in the backyard of John and Nicole Armstrong – a middle class family that has suffered layoffs and a swindling retirement and college savings due to the economic downturn. With his shirt sleeves rolled up, surrounded by a circle of neighbors sitting on picnic tables and lawn chairs the president tried to portray confidence in the economy, with a dose or realism. "We stopped the bleeding, stabilized the economy, but the fact of the matter is, is that the pace of improvement has not been where it needs to be.  And the hole that we had dug ourselves in was enormous." The president made one more pitch for the Senate to pass the small business job bill calling it a “commonsense bill” that, due to the “political silly season” is being held up on the Hill. A massage therapist introduced herself and as she started to ask her question. Mr. Obama rubbed his neck and joked, “I’ve got a crick in my neck, right here.” “Yeah, I bet you do,” the massage therapist responded. “A lot of tension's been building up,” Obama added. -Sunlen Miller

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