Obama Supports Tax On Millionaires

Obama endorsed a tax on millionaires to pay for his jobs creation package as he prodded lawmakers Thursday to deliver a jolt to a moribund economy, warning that frustrated voters are likely to “run them out of town” if they fail to act. Senate Democrats who are grappling to get enough support in the caucus for the $447 billion package have suggested taxing millionaires, and Obama said Thursday at the White House that he’d back the move, though he suggested that he’d still want other tax increases he’s proposed to help reduce long-term budget deficits. The economy needs a jolt right now,” Obama said. “This is not a game. This is not the time for the usual political gridlock.”

The tax, 5.6 percent on all income – including capital gains, estates, individual income and so on – would apply to each dollar of taxable income over $1 million. The original Senate Democratic plan would have imposed a 5 percent surtax, starting next year. That changed after the White House said it didn’t want tax increases next year, so the rate was raised and the effective date delayed until 2013. It would still raise an estimated $452.8 billion over 10 years, enough to pay for Obama’s jobs plan. An estimated 317,000 people, less than 1 percent of all taxpayers, would be subject to the surtax. The plan has a positive political effect for Democrats, bringing them together under a tax increase plan. They were split over the president’s original plan to raise about $400 billion by limiting itemized deductions for individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year and joint filers who make more than $250,000.

Obama accused Republicans of playing politics, saying he’s looking to provide a needed boost to the economy and has been thwarted by the GOP at every turn. Obama called the hastily arranged news conference as the Senate prepares to vote next week on his American Jobs Act, which Obama says includes measures that Republicans and Democrats traditionally have supported, such as a cut in the Social Security payroll tax and spending for road construction, schools and aid to the unemployed. Senate Democrats don’t have enough votes to pass the bill, and the millionaires’ tax was floated as a way to sell the measure to wavering Democrats and even some Republicans. In the Senate, 60 votes are needed to cut off debate and bring the bill to a final vote. Democrats control 53 of the 100 seats.

Obama said the White House was open for negotiations with congressional Republicans, but that he’d tried to bargain for more than two years without success. Obama said he was willing to press for individual pieces of his bill, such as a proposed extension and expansion of a one-year cut in the payroll tax, or spending for public works. But he added, “We’re going to keep on going and we will put forward maybe piece by piece … and each time they’re going to have to explain why it is that they’d be opposed to putting teachers back in the classroom or rebuilding our schools or giving tax cuts to middle-class folks and giving tax cuts to small businesses.” He rejected suggestions by political pundits that he wants to use Republican opposition as a weapon on the campaign trail, railing against a “do-nothing” Congress as Democrat Harry Truman did in 1948 on his way to re-election.

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