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Axelrod: An About Face on Extending Bush Tax Cuts for All?

3 years ago
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Has White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod done an about face on the Bush tax cuts?

In an e-mail Thursday, he said that the administration has not bowed to Republican demands to extend the breaks to everyone, including the wealthy -- seemingly a change from earlier remarks.

"We're willing to discuss how we move forward," Axelrod wrote to the National Journal following a Huffington Post story headlined "White House Gives In on Bush Tax Cuts," "but we believe that it's imperative to extend the tax cuts for the middle class, and don't believe we can afford a permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthy."

In an interview with the Huffington Post on Wednesday evening, Axelrod said President Obama would accept an extension of the Bush tax cuts across the board -- for middle- and upper-income earners alike. It is a departure from the administration's previous position, but, as Axelrod explained, "We have to deal with the world as we find it. The world of what it takes to get this done."

Despite GOP insistence that the tax cuts should be extended for all Americans, for months Obama has vowed not to extend them for individuals making more than $200,000 per year or families making $250,000 annually, saying the country could not afford the estimated $700 billion the cuts would add to the federal deficit.

But in the days following his party's self-described "shellacking" in the midterm elections, both the president and Republican leaders seemed to suggest that a compromise might be possible.

In the interview, Axelrod justified the administration's apparent change of heart, offering that Obama "took the position he felt was the right position" but that this "optimal" stance was untenable in the current climate. "I don't want to trade away security for the middle class," he said, "in order to make that point." (All of the cuts are set to expire at the end of the year unless they're renewed by the current Congress.)

The details on the White House position remain murky: Axelrod indicated that the upper income extension would only be temporary. "Plainly, what we can't do is permanently extend these high income taxes," he said. On Thursday morning, the National Journal reported that walked back from his earlier statements to the Huffington Post, instead stressing compromise with Republicans on the issue.

For the White House, the debate over taxes and deficit expenditures is only beginning: On Wednesday, the chairmen of the president's deficit commission released initial outlines of their report -- which includes a host of controversial recommendations including Social Security changes and tax increases.

For the moment, the president is remaining mum. "I'm not going to comment on [the outline] because I want [the commission] to have the space to do their work," he said in a press conference at the G-20 summit in South Korea. He then added, "If we are concerned about debt and deficits, then we're going to have to take actions that are difficult and we're going to have to tell the truth to the American people."

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474 Comments

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Stephanie Farlow

The sad part about this is for me and my 2 small children is that not only did our home go to sheriff sale but I've only collected unemployment for 6 months and that will be gone if this gets past. I am in no way saying that even the people that have had 2 and 3 extensions should be cut off either, especially in this economy. The republicans that want this make an average salary of 174,000 per year now isn't that special?? When I was a little girl i ask my grandma what was the difference between a republican and a Democrat and she replied "the republicans are for the rich and the democrats are for everyone" Boy was she right and I never really realized it till now, although have been a hard core democrat my entire life, . Stephanie NJ

November 30 2010 at 5:48 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Cathy

Obama and his crew are the same ones who were in no particular hurry to extend anyone's tax cuts. If the Republicans had not dominated the election, I doubt that any of us would get any extention of tax cuts. After all, the government has put us into such a hole, they need our money to get us out. Problem is, it won't decrease the debt. They will just spend more money...like extending unemployment, which now has become a way of life for some.

November 30 2010 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sumorena

@ JOE - 250k is a lot of money if you live in Nebraska. But if you live in NY, NJ or CT have a family of 5, a mortgage, a commute, tolls, heating bills, college tuition it isn't that much money anymore. Remember at that income now you are taxed at the highest bracket so what you earn isn't anywhere near what you bring home. At 19k a year, you don't pay any taxes. So yes, it is ALL relative.

November 29 2010 at 4:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
cmdrmom2

All I know is this: My parents are considered "rich." Why? Because they saved, scrimped, ran their own business and invested in a couple pieces of property. With respect to their "estate tax," they will be considered RICH because property values rose over the past 50 years. When they die, if the Bush tax cuts expire, the government will swoop down and confiscate at least 50% of the inflated "worth" of what mom and dad leave behind. Is that right? NO. It will take the government a nano-second to waste the money, and I will have to sell the property instead of securing my children and grandchildrens' futures. Way to go America. Not.

November 29 2010 at 1:41 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cmdrmom2's comment
cmdrmom2

And, let me add this, I can still see the blood on mom's hands after working all day painting one of the buildings, doing the gardening, etc. This so that some fool who won't work can collect freebies on my mom's estate tax? I'm angry.

November 29 2010 at 1:47 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Ed

When will the Dems get it through their heads that economic stimulus comes from those same "rich" they are trying to tax to death? In EVERY instance that the feds have cut taxes, income to the IRS has increased? WHY? Because if you're going to take my hard earned money away to do with as YOU please, I'm not going to spend any of it. If you let me keep it to do with as I please, then I'll spend some. This means that those evil rich business owners buy stuff, which in turn creates those jobs for people making and selling stuff. More jobs, more people paying taxes, more people buying stuff which brings more jobs..... THINK!

November 16 2010 at 5:01 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ed's comment
roseborowitz

That's not true. It's the "trickle down theory" from Reagan Era. Greenspan admitted last year that it did not work. The Bush tax cuts will cost tax payers $700 million in the next 10 years. Financed by yours friendly China. Let's all go learn to speak Chinese.

November 17 2010 at 1:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
stevendy1

roseboritz----thats over $ 700 billion dollars PER YEAR !!

November 29 2010 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
legalcld

Yes we will, no we won't, yes we will, no we won't??? And they wonder why the American public is confused, tired and fed up with washington!!! Make up your mind washington!! And why is making $250K a year being considered "rich"? Who made that decision?

November 15 2010 at 3:43 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to legalcld's comment
Joe

Maybe it's just a relative thing. $250K is a great deal more to deal with than my $19K income. The point I'm trying to get to is that those with an income at and above the $250K level have a great deal more left after a trip to the grocery than those of us at these lower levels. Now I have heard that I should work harder and make more money, but I am disabled. A wise man once said that those that don't like income taxes might consider moving to some place that doesn't have them. His example was Russia. At the time Russia had no income tax, but then there was also the problem of no income either.

November 15 2010 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jffrybrk

Repubs can't have it both ways. Let's hammer the current administration for increasing spending and lets hammer the current adminstration because they wont increase spending for the wealthy. Then when he agrees to extend tax cuts to the wealthy just to ensure that the lower and middle income get their much needed cuts he is hammered for changing his mind. Seems like our President is in a no win situation.

November 16 2010 at 8:34 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
gillette377

"...... we're going to have to tell the truth to the American people." It's about time, up to now you haven't

November 15 2010 at 2:46 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
ForgetDC

I haven't seen anyone ask the White house or the dems why they portrayed the Bush tax cuts as only for the rich until now. You never heard a Dem point out that the rates were lowered for all. You libs need to ask yourselves why your leaders were so deceptive about Bush rates. You could have easily looked them up and compared them to Clintons rates but they must have assumed that you would not make the effort.

November 15 2010 at 1:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to ForgetDC's comment
ForgetDC

Tax law is about tax revenue. Tax revenue is a factor of the tax rates, the amount of income that is taxed and how that income grows. The best thing for US is to leave rates alone or cut them, and apply the lower rates to a growing base of income. Increasing rates will deteriorate income further and encourage people to change their behavior towards earning income. Clintons big tax rate increase only increased revenue the first year by 4 billlion - a few hours worth of govt overhead.

November 15 2010 at 1:46 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Frank

Rather than all the discusion re tax cuts, why not a discourse on salary freeze, hiring freeze, cost containment and reductions, budget reductions and an effort to get control of expenditures. This is not a popular dialogue

November 15 2010 at 11:03 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

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