Obama offers $3 trillion debt plan, tax hikes on rich
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama laid out a $3 trillion plan on Monday to cut U.S. deficits by raising taxes on the rich, but Republicans rejected it as a political stunt and made clear the proposal has little chance of becoming law.
Vowing to veto any plan that relies solely on spending cuts to reduce deficits, the Democratic president’s recommendations set the stage for an ideological fight with Republicans opposed to tax increases that will stretch through Election Day 2012.
“I will not support any plan that puts all the burden of closing our deficit on ordinary Americans,” Obama said. “We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.”
Obama’s speech reflected a more aggressive defense of Democratic principles after he took a battering in two previous budget battles with Republicans this year that helped drive his approval rating to new lows.
Most Americans say they are unhappy with Obama’s economic leadership, and the president’s re-election hopes could hinge on his ability to convince voters that Republicans represent the rich, not the middle class.
On Monday, he repeatedly said all Americans must pay their “fair share” of taxes, and he sharpened the difference between his vision for America and that of Republicans in a speech meant to regain support among core supporters who have said Obama has failed to stick to liberal principles.
Republicans have consistently opposed any measures resembling tax hikes, saying they will hurt the struggling economy by increasing the burden on job-creating businesses. Republican leaders stuck to that position on Monday, quickly rejecting Obama’s plan.
“Veto threats, a massive tax hike, phantom savings, and punting on entitlement reform is not a recipe for economic or job growth,” said Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives and the top Republican in Congress, said Obama failed to offer a “serious” recommendation to the special bipartisan congressional committee tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings.
“Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership,” Boehner said
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