Although neither the President nor Press Secretary Jay Carney specifically said so during their respective remarks at the White House yesterday, the hints they gave were so strong as to be obvious: The administration is going to once again push for repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts for the highest wage-earners before the “super committee” in Congress crafts the next stage of the debt-reduction package.
In his appearance at the White House to address the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating by Standard and Poor’s, President Obama told White House correspondents (whom he kept waiting for nearly fifty minutes), “There’s not much further we can cut in either of those categories. What we need to do now is combine those spending cuts with two additional steps: tax reform that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare.”
To those of us who have covered Obama for the past few weeks, this was just a toned-down version of his repeated calls for higher taxes on “owners of corporate jets,” “authors of best-selling books” and other euphemisms for Americans who earn over $250,000 a year annually. In other words, signs are obvious he will call for the repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts on the highest wage-earners.
In his briefing for reporters after the President’s remarks, Carney also threw out several strong hints that the movement for repeal would be revived by the White House.
“We are not reinventing the wheel here,” Carney told us, citing “significant contributions” to the debt-ceiling debate from former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin, and the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission (both of which recommended tax increases). Carney also recalled reports that, on the eve of the deal between White House and U.S. House weeks ago that was never realized, John Boehner was willing to support “$800 billion in revenue.” According to Carney, those were “the speaker’s own words”—before Boehner backed away from the deal and told reporters that he could not go along with the administration’s insistence on a tax increase.
After the President devoted much of his remarks to attacking the Standard and Poor’s downgrade, Carney quoted its reasons for the downgrade, which included “the unwillingness of the Republicans for the need to accept revenue increases.”
You get the picture. The Obama White House lost Round 1 in the fight to secure ending the Bush tax cuts on the highest wage-earners in the debt-ceiling package. Yesterday, it signaled the start of Round 2.