President Obama took a break from his three-day campaign fundraising tour today to pitch his $447 billion jobs plan and defend his proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to reduce the deficit, arguing that everyone is going to have to do their “fair share.”
At the “Putting America Back to Work” LinkedIn town hall in Mountain View, Calif., Obama came face-to-face with his deficit-reduction proposal. “Would you please raise my taxes?” asked Doug Edwards a former director of consumer marketing and branding at Google, who described himself as “unemployed by choice.”
“I would like very much to have the country to continue to invest in things like Pell grants and infrastructure and job training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am,” Edwards said. “And it kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of the tax cuts that have been benefitting so many of us for so long. I think that needs to change, and I hope that you’ll stay strong in doing that.”
The question set up the president to explain why he thinks it’s necessary to reform the tax code so that “everybody is doing their fair share.”
“This is not an issue of do we somehow try to punish those who’ve done well. That’s the last thing we want to do. It’s a question of how can we afford to continue to make the investments that are going to propel America forward?” Obama said.
The president argued for returning to the tax rates of the 1990′s. “During that period, the rich got richer, the middle class expanded, people rose out of poverty because everybody was doing well,” Obama said.
“If we don’t get our fiscal house in order in a way that is fair and equitable so that everybody feels like they have responsibilities to not only themselves and their family, but also to the country that’s given them so much opportunity, we’re going to have problems,” Obama said today.
The president’s plan to reduce the deficit by more than $2 trillion in new tax increases and entitlement reforms has been met with stiff opposition from Republicans who have said the president’s proposals amount to “class warfare.” In response, Obama has publicly drawn a stark contrast between himself and his congressional rivals in an attempt to force Republicans to align with corporations and the rich.
Once again, the president today blamed Washington in-fighting and political games for the lack of progress to revitalize the economy. “The problem is not outside of Washington. The problem is, is that things have gotten so ideologically driven and everybody’s so focused on the next election and putting party ahead of country that we’re not able to solve our problems, and that’s got to change,” he said.
Republicans aren’t the only ones focused on the 2012 election. The president will attend seven campaign events during his Western swing this week in an effort to raise some serious campaign cash before the close of the quarter on Sept. 30.