Last Updated:November 29 @ 05:55 pm

Obama seeks to shift election toward tax debate

By Julie Pace and Kasie Hunt

WASHINGTON (AP) - Facing sagging jobs numbers, President Barack Obama sought to recast the November election as a fight over tax fairness on Monday, urging tax cut extensions for all families earning less than $250,000 but denying them to households making more than that.

The president's pitch was aimed at painting Republican rival Mitt Romney as a protector of the rich at a time of economic unease, as Democrats intensify efforts to raise questions about the Romney's own wealth and offshore bank accounts.

Romney supports extending the federal tax cuts, first signed by George W. Bush, for all income earners.

Obama said if Congress passes a one-year extension for those making less than $250,000, voters can use the November election to decide the fate of the cuts for higher income earners.

"My opponent will fight to keep them in place. I will fight to end them," said Obama, flanked by a dozen people the White House said would benefit from the tax cut extension.

The president has long supported ending the Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000. The White House and the president's re-election team are reviving his arguments now as a way to suggest that the push by Romney and congressional Republicans for an across-the-board extension of the tax cuts could put America's middle class at risk.

"Let's not hold the vast majority of Americans and our economy hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy," Obama said at the White House.

The president's sudden focus on the tax fairness debate was also an attempt to change the election subject after yet another lackluster jobs report. New numbers released Friday showed the nation's unemployment rate stuck at 8.2 percent, giving Romney fresh grounds to attack Obama as unfit to steer the U.S. economy.

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the president was responding to the bad economic news by calling for a "massive tax increase."

"It just proves again that the president doesn't have a clue how to get America working again and help the middle class," Saul said.

Obama said his proposal was aimed at staving off an end-of-the year stalemate with Congress. But it appeared to have the opposite effect.

Congressional Republicans immediately balked, saying it would be a mistake to raise taxes on anyone while the economy was still struggling to recover. The House GOP plans to make its own push this summer for a full extension of the tax cuts.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama would veto such a bill if it landed on his desk.

Ahead of Obama's remarks on Monday, White House officials consulted with congressional Democrats to shore up support within the party. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of his party's Senate leadership, had both previously advocated extending the cuts to those who make up to $1 million annually, but on Monday they stood in solidarity with the president.

Obama angered many fellow Democrats in 2010 when he signed off on a full extension of the Bush tax cuts, in part to win concessions from Republicans on other legislation.

Extending the tax cuts only for households making below $250,000 would save the government about $800 billion over 10 years compared with extending them for everyone. The full cuts cost the government about $4.5 trillion over a decade.

Economists worry that across-the-board tax increases, along with automatic spending cuts also scheduled to take hold at year's end, could be a blow to the shaky U.S. economy.

About 2.5 million U.S. households had incomes of $250,000 annually or more, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The median household income in 2010 was $49,445.

Romney, whose personal wealth could exceed $250 million, would be among the nation's richest presidents if elected, and the Obama campaign has sought to portray him as disconnected from middle class voters.

Democrats ramped up their calls over the weekend for Romney to release more of his tax returns, which would outline the investments he has lived off of for more than a decade.

Romney has so far refused to release more than two years of tax returns, breaking from a precedent set by his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, who released 12 years of returns when he sought the presidency a generation ago. An Associated Press report recently raised questions about a previously undisclosed Bermuda-based company included in Romney's portfolio until the day before he became Massachusetts governor.

Romney's campaign dismisses the Obama campaign's tactics as an attack on success. And Romney hasn't shown any indications of trying to deny his wealth. He spent Sunday in the Hamptons, the wealthy enclave on Long Island, holding three fundraisers at wealthy donors' homes as protesters stood outside. At the day's third event, at the Southampton estate of billionaire industrialist David Koch, donors were asked to give $50,000 per person or $75,000 per couple.

On Monday, Romney raised money in Aspen, Colo., the resort town where Michelle Obama has vacationed. And he spent the previous week jet skiing and boating on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, where he has a lakeside estate worth millions.

While hardly in Romney's league, Obama also is well-off and acknowledges it. At one point Monday, he said that "it's time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, folks like myself, to expire.

The president, too, was mingling with the wealthy on Monday. Hours after calling for increased taxes on higher income earners, he attended two campaign fundraisers in Washington that cost donors $40,000 per person.

The Romney campaign announced Monday that, in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, it raised $106 million in June. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised $71 million.


Kasie Hunt reported from Aspen, Colo. Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed from Washington.

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  1. swanComment by swan
    July 10, 2012 @ 7:17 am

    I really wish that instead of saying “rich” or “wealthy”, politicians and the news media would say “job providers”. It is a simple shift and truthful.

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  2. TexannaComment by Texanna
    July 10, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    What infuriates me about this is that the liberals talk about tax cuts as a loss of revenue. If they never had the money to begin with, how can it be a loss?

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  3. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    July 10, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    Obama’s seeking to shift the debate to anything but jobs, the economy, and Obamacare!

    Romney’s off shore accounts and wealth? Romney should fully reveal all of his accounts and financial information… as soon as the Kennedy family, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Kerry/Heinz family, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to name a few, reveal theirs. What difference does it make to us, how much money anyone else has, or where it’s invested? It’s none of our business. If it was done illegally, I’m sure that there would have been an investigation already.

    This is just another diversion, done to steer the conversation away from; jobs, the economy, and Obamacare. Obama has nothing positive that he’s done to point to.

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  4. bronxconservComment by bronxconserv
    July 10, 2012 @ 9:43 am

    The whole tax the rich issue is nothing but a ruse to drum up class warfare and pin Romney as the rich guy. It’s a fact that the revenue generated from taxing people making more than $250,000 would only bring in 8 and a half days of current federal spending! In other words, it’s a miniscule amount of money and will do absolutely nothing to bring down the national debt.

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  5. CharlieComment by vietnamvet
    July 10, 2012 @ 10:41 am

    “The House GOP plans to make its own push this summer for a full extension of the tax cuts.

    White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama would veto such a bill if it landed on his desk.”

    If the Republicans can manage to get him to sign that veto before November, it will ensure that Obama is history.

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  6. jimbComment by jimb
    July 10, 2012 @ 11:58 am

    Tax cuts don’t “cost” the government any thing as the government doesn’t produce any income. It isn’t the governments money it is the taxpayers money.

    [quote]Extending the tax cuts only for households making below $250,000 would save the government about $800 billion over 10 years compared with extending them for everyone. The full cuts cost the government about $4.5 trillion over a decade.[/quote]

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  7. cxComment by genesal
    July 10, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    The tax is indeed a ruse. It is kind of brilliant putting the GOP on the defensive just before the election.


    July 27, 2012 is the date set for signing away our 2nd Amendment rights. That’s right you heard me, signing over our 2nd Amendment rights to the United Nations. The ramifications are mind blowing, mind numbing and should infuriate every American.

    I’m talking about the global “Small Arms Treaty”
    While the terms have yet to be made public, if passed by the U.N. and ratified by our Senate, it will almost certainly force the U.S. to:
    Enact tougher licensing requirements, creating additional bureaucratic red tape for legal firearms ownership.
    Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms (exempting those owned by our government of course).
    Ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons (any that have magazines even though they still operate in the same one trigger pull – one single “bang” manner as revolvers, a simple fact the ant-gun media never seem to grasp).
    Create an international gun registry, clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.
    In short, overriding our national sovereignty, and in the process, providing license for the federal government to assert preemptive powers over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment in addition to our Second Amendment rights.

    U.N. Agreement Should Have All Gun Owners Up In Arms


    Important to also watch this video from Dick Morris, very informative and necessary. Time is very very short

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  8. capricorn1Comment by capricorn1
    July 10, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

    oBLAMMER is using this as smoke and mirrors.there is nothing he will not do to get re-elected,i do mean nothing.

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  9. oldcuzComment by oldcuz
    July 10, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    Good Grief, I just wonder why this liberal bunch of loons hates anyone that is at all sucessful, I guess it’s just envy because most of them ever amounted to a hill of beans and very few have so much as ran a lemonade stand.

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