Obama on Twitter Confronts Skeptics of Tax Hike for Rich

(Image credit: @petesouza/twitter)

With talks to resolve the "fiscal cliff" at an impasse, President Obama today used Twitter to respond directly to skeptics of his plan to hike income tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at the end of the year.

Obama asserted - through a series of 140-character Tweets sent from his Apple MacBook inside the White House - that "high end tax cuts do least for economic growth" and sharply curtailing government spending hurts the middle class.

The tweets follow weeks of limited direct negotiations between Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders integral to averting the "cliff," an economically-toxic package of tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in 29 days.

Emboldened by the election results, Obama says higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans is an imperative in any deal.

One Twitter user, @hunertred, asked Obama why he wouldn't compromise and accept the Republicans' proposal to raise tax revenue by capping or eliminating deductions and closing loopholes instead of raising tax rates, something that "seems like a reasonable" middle ground.

The president called the approach unacceptable because it would not raise sufficient revenue without also ending popular tax incentives, like charitable deductions, that benefit millions of Americans.

"Breaks for middle class impt for families & econ," Obama tweeted later, when asked by another user whether the home mortgage deduction might be on the table. "If top rates don't go up, danger that middle class deductions get hit," he said.

David Osteen, a self-described "Christian, husband and father and former soldier" from North Carolina, questioned why the president has placed so much focus on tax increases rather than on curbing spending, a common GOP gripe.

Obama replied, in two Tweets, that he was "open to more smart cuts but not in areas like R&D [research and development] or educ [education] that help growth and jobs, or hurt vulnerable" people.

The president said there's "room to negotiate" around a ratio of revenue increases to spending cuts, but noted that "rough balance [between] rev & cuts does the trick."

Read the full Twitter Q&A here.

President Obama took eight questions during the roughly 45 minute Twitter session, which was branded #My2K by the White House, alluding to the roughly $2,000 tax hike that the average American family will face if lower tax rates are not extended for 98 percent of Americans before Jan. 1.

Obama ended his townhall by selecting a question on the pro-sports teams from his adopted hometown of Chicago.

"Who will win it all first: Chicago #WhiteSox, #Bulls, or #Bears?" asked @Mica4Life.

"Da bears still gotta shot, despite sad loss this weekend!" Obama said of the NFL team. "Plus rose will return for playoffs!!!"

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