President Obama today called for using $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue raised from the wealthy to pay for the American Jobs Act he proposed last week.
In his speech at the White House this morning he said it was the duty of lawmakers to focus first and foremost on job creation and he said it was the job of Congress to carry this out.
Obama said the proposals he laid out today would ensure that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share toward fixing the economy. He said he was applying the "Buffet Rule," named for the billionaire investor Warren Buffet who has stated that people such as himself should be taxed at a much higher level than they are now.
"While the poor and the middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks," wrote Buffet in a New York Times column Aug. 14. "Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as earned interest, thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at only 15 percent, as if they'd been long-term investors.
"These and other blessings are showered on us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us," Buffet wrote, "much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It's nice to have friends in high places."
Buffet went on to say that millionaires and billionaires pay a much lower percentage of tax on their wealth than do the vast majority of working people.
In his speech today the President also proposed savings of $1 trillion from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, money, which the labor movement and its allies have said should be used to avoid any cuts in Medicare or Medicaid.
In his speech Obama added, Social Security does not contribute "one dime" to the deficit and that Social Security benefits should not be cut.
The President vowed to veto any bill that cut Medicare benefits without raising revenue through fairer taxes on the rich.
He insisted, repeatedly, that any plan to tackle the deficit had to include more taxes on the super wealthy. "It is wrong that in the United States of America that a teacher or construction worker making $50,000 should pay more than someone who makes 50 million," Obama declared.
"My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress," Buffet wrote on Aug. 14.
The plan the president announced today would repeal the Bush-era tax rates for couples making more than $250,000, limit deductions for the wealthiest and end certain corporate loopholes and subsidies for oil and gas companies.
Photo: PW file.