Obama Heading to Michigan to Push for Taxes on Rich

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is pressing for public support Monday to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, a day after he and House Speaker John Boehner met one-on-one for the first time to discuss ways to avert the "fiscal cliff."

Neither side provided details of the weekend meeting at the White House. But with just three weeks until a flurry of tax hikes and spending cuts start taking effect, the mere fact that the meeting happened was seen as progress.

Negotiations continue to center on whether to raise tax rates for the top two percent of income earners. Obama, in a campaign-style speech to auto workers in Michigan on Monday, is expected to stress that he won't sign a deal that doesn't include higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.

While Republicans have long opposed that approach, some GOP lawmakers are suggesting the party relent on taxes in order to win concessions from the president on entitlement reforms.

And business leaders, tired of Washington's partisan bickering creating uncertainty in the marketplace, are emphasizing the need to hammer out a deal before year's end.

"The millions of people that work for us, their lives are in flux. And this is incredibly critical we get this done now," said Jeffrey Immelt, GE's (NYSE: GE  ) chief executive and head of the presidential advisory council on competitiveness.

Immelt, in remarks aired Monday on "CBS This Morning," added: "Everyone knows we need revenue," because spending cuts alone won't solve the problem.

GOP mavericks are putting increased pressure on their party's leaders to rethink how they approach negotiations with Obama in the wake of a bruising national election that left Democrats in charge of the White House and Senate.

"There is a growing group of folks looking at this and realizing that we don't have a lot of cards as it relates to the tax issue before year end," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told "Fox News Sunday."

If Republicans agree to Obama's plan to increase rates on the top 2 percent of Americans, Corker added, "the focus then shifts to entitlements, and maybe it puts us in a place where we actually can do something that really saves the nation."

Conservative stalwart Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had already floated a similar idea. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., has said Obama and Boehner could at least agree not to raise tax rates on the majority of Americans and negotiate the rates of top earners later.

"It's not waving a white flag to recognize political reality," Cole said on CNN's "State of the Union."

But such ideas face an uphill battle. Many House Republicans say they wouldn't vote for tax rate hikes under any circumstances. And GOP leadership could lose leverage in the negotiations if it raises the rate on upper-income earners without getting anything substantial in return like entitlement reform.

Democratic leaders have suggested they are unwilling to tackle entitlement spending in the three weeks left before the fiscal cliff is triggered.

"I just don't think we can do it in a matter of days here before the end of the year," Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said of Medicare reform specifically, in an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We need to address that in a thoughtful way through the committee structure after the first of the year," Durbin added.

The "fiscal cliff" refers to rate increases that would affect every worker who pays federal taxes, as well as spending cuts that would begin to bite defense and domestic programs alike. Economists say the combination carries the risk of a new recession, at a time the economy is still struggling to recover fully from the worst slowdown in decades.

The president's message in Michigan will be that the economy is rebounding and Congress should not risk that progress to save tax cuts for the rich. The president will use the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant where he'll speak to illustrate his point, noting that the company plans to spend an additional $100 million to boost production in the U.S.

Obama's plan would raise $1.6 trillion in revenue over 10 years, partly by letting decade-old tax cuts on the country's highest earners expire at the end of the year. He would continue those Bush-era tax cuts for everyone except individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000. The highest rates on top-paid Americans would rise from 33 percent and 35 percent to 36 percent and 39.6 percent, respectively.

Boehner has offered $800 billion in new revenues to be raised by reducing or eliminating unspecified tax breaks on upper-income earners. The Republican plan also would cut spending by $1.4 trillion, including by trimming annual increases in Social Security payments and raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2012, at 12:09 PM, damilkman wrote:

    I view the tax arguments as rhetoric only. I love how revenue adjustments are always presented in running ten year blocks to make it look so much bigger. The reality is that a lot less of that 1.6 trillion that is estimated to be collected over ten years will be. The rich will just move their investments into something else. The well to do will bear the brunt. So we have shrunk the deficit by 100B. So what is the plan for the other 900 billion? Increases in taxes would be just fine if it actually addressed the deficit.

    My take is all of this rhetoric is about the real cliff which is the health care laws slowly going into place. A very large class of lower middle class people are going to be hit by a very large expense when they come to the realization of what they have to do. This hit will be about equal in percentage to what Obama is demanding from the top 2%. He has to lock them in because he knows they will be paying the same rate if not either through manditory health care or penalties for not particapating.

    Me personally I would rather walk off the cliff or ski down the bunny slope as the improving economy is based soley on massive unsustainable overspending. If only I could borrow 50% of my total income every year to live the high life. Of course any of us can for awhile. And I have seen individuals, a few companies, and even some countries in the EU that have done exactly that.

    The cliff may be painful, but is not all bad medicine and austerity painful. At least we would know the real state of our economy instead of kicking the can and not fixing it. Pallative measures are only that and do not fix the structural problems. If the additional spending was doing something worthwhile to work out of the current problem I could tolerate it. But we know the money spent is about as useful as the money spent in Greece, Spain, and Italy.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2012, at 12:52 PM, mdk0611 wrote:

    Going over the cliff does little to nothing to reform entitlements.

    Specific and immediate tax hikes now in exchange for vague promises of entitlement reform reminds me of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.

    Specifics are needed for both sides of the equation and it's needed before 12/31/12. And like all the bipartisan proposals out there it should be 3:1 or 4:1 spending cuts/entitlement reforms to revenue increases.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2012, at 1:00 PM, gskinner75006 wrote:

    I swear this man is like a broken record.

    "A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” Rosalynn Carter. Unfortunately for us, President Obama is neither.

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