House Speaker John Boehner defended calling President Obama’s economic message “almost un-American,” saying that the president is dividing middle income and wealthy Americans.
On Tuesday before the State of the Union address, Boehner criticized the president’s calls for increasing taxes on the wealthy, telling a group of reporters, “This is a president who said I’m not going to be a divider, I’m going to be a uniter, and running on the politics of division and envy is — to me it’s almost un-American.”
In an interview on “This Week,” Boehner told me, “What I’m talking about here is the politics of dividing America, the politics of envy. This is not the American way.”
In his State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his call for taxing capital gains at a higher rate – they are currently at a recent historical low of 15 percent – so that the wealthy do not pay a lower tax rate than middle income Americans.
When I raised that capital gains tax rates were at 28% at the end of President Reagan’s second term, Boehner said that those paying the lower rate today have already paid their fair share.
“Understand that those who pay a capital gains rate on their investments, they already paid taxes on this money originally at ordinary income tax rates,” Boehner said. “So let’s understand that what we’re talking about here is one of fairness and what helps our economy grow.”
“What Republicans want to do is redo our entire tax code,” he added. “It’s got every kind of loophole and exception known to man. The president’s proposal wants to complicate it even more.”
And Boehner reiterated that he does not believe President Obama has done enough to improve the economy to deserve re-election.
“The president doubled down on the same failed policies that have not worked,” Boehner said. “If the president won’t work with us to help create jobs, I’m sure the American people will elect someone who will.”