Obama: Tax the rich to help grow the economy
Mopeder 2012/04/13 15:35:00
President Obama said Tuesday that the nation faces a stark economic choice: Continue giving tax breaks to the nation's wealthiest citizens or risk gutting essential programs that help grow the middle class.
"Let me me ask you, what's the better way to make our economy stronger?," Obama told an enthusiastic crowd in Boca Raton, Fla. "Do we give ... tax breaks to every millionaire and billionaire in the country? Or should we make investments in education and research and health care and our veterans?"
Obama also told students at Florida Atlantic University that "what drags our entire economy down" is when"the gap between those at the very, very top and everybody else keeps growing wider and wider and wider and wider."
The president also decried Republican budget plans that would give more tax breaks to the wealthy, and he dared the GOP to specify the kinds of budget cuts it would make in order to reach its goal of a lower federal debt.
"The money's got to come from somewhere," Obama said.
The Democratic-run Senate has scheduled a vote on the Buffett Rule for Monday, though Republicans are sure to block it.
The proposal is named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who says it's unfair for him to pay a lower tax rate than his secretary.
The reason: Investment income is taxed at lower rates than salaries and wages. Proponents of the Buffett Rule have not said whether they would increase investment taxes, or establish some sort of flat tax for millionaires and billionaires.
Obama cited the anecdote about Buffett and his secretary in his speech, saying "now that's wrong -- that's not fair." The president said the share of national income flowing to the wealthiest 1% has climbed to levels last seen in the 1920s, yet the rich are also paying the lowest tax rates of the past half-century.
"We've got to choose which direction we want this country to go," Obama said. "Do we want to keep giving those tax breaks to folks like me who don't need them? Or do we want to keep investing in those things that keep our economy growing and keep us secured? That's the choice."
Obama spent part of his speech on more conservative themes, saying at one point that "government is not the answer to everything," and discussing programs that have been cut on his watch. Obama also said none of his proposals would include tax hikes for those making less than $250,000 a year.
But there are some things government should do, he added, including education, research, health care and other "investments" that can help Americans better themselves.
"In this country, prosperity has never trickled down from the wealthy few," Obama said. "Prosperity has always come from the bottom up, from a strong and growing middle class."
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