At his first news conference following re-election, President Obama today cut straight to the meat of his message: the vast majority of Americans cannot see a tax hike.
Obama was referring to the 98 percent of Americans who would see their taxes go up if nothing is done by Congress to halt the expiration of tax breaks and usher in spending cuts at the end of the year, a deadline more commonly referred to as the “fiscal cliff.”
The “98 percent” represents Americans who make less than $250,000 a year, along with the 97 percent of small businesses, who earn less than $250,000 a year.
Both Republicans and Democrats are seeking to keep lower tax rates for middle-income and low-income households, but Democrats say the wealthiest 2 percent should have to pay the higher rates that were in place in the 1990s, a move that would end the so-called “Bush tax cuts” for wealthier Americans.
Here is Obama’s bottom line from today’s news conference:
“And so the most important step we can take right now, and, I think, the foundation for a deal that helps the economy, creates jobs, gives consumers certainty, which means gives businesses confidence that they’re going to have consumers during the holiday season, is if we right away say 98 percent of Americans are not going to see their taxes go up; 97 percent of small businesses are not going to see their taxes go up.
“If we get that in place, we are actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. Half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step.”