A Hard Sell for a Tax Plan Under Siege
As Obama's deal with the GOP on taxes stalls in the House, his advisers press the case that "it's as strong a win for jobs and working families as anyone can imagine."
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Update: The tax-cut bill passed the House late Thursday. Its next stop is the president's desk.
As President Barack Obama's controversial tax-cut proposal was temporarily pulled from a vote in the House on Thursday, the White House trotted out Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council, and Gene Sperling, counselor to the treasury secretary, to sell a package that has met with considerable opposition on both sides of the aisle.
It was a sales pitch made of necessity: The administration is fending off a perception by many in the liberal base that this package, which will provide a two-year reprieve from tax increases scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, unfairly benefits the wealthy. Especially galling to its opponents are plans to extend President George W. Bush's tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 and to raise the threshold for exemption from the estate tax to $5 million, while lowering the top tax rate to 35 percent.
In a briefing for regional reporters, Sperling said that, on the contrary, the proposed tax plan will be a win for working families. Sure, he acknowledged, a couple of things the president is none too fond of made it into the compromise, but there will be "significant tax relief" for 150 million families. The plan cuts taxes across all income levels, including those for the upper income bracket, which Obama had pledged in the past to allow to expire.
Moreover, Sperling said, with the extension of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and American Opportunity Tax Credit (which provides a $2,500 yearly refundable tuition tax credit), "the hardest-hit families" will have "money in their pockets." The plan will also reduce Social Security taxes for every wage earner in 2011 and extend jobless benefits for 2 million Americans by 13 months.
"It's as strong a win for jobs and working families as anyone can imagine," Sperling said. "It's better for working families than anyone thought possible."
Another selling point from the White House: This is temporary. So all the deficit hawks freaking out about the ever expanding waistline of the bloated budget need not fret, according to the administration. "It definitely is a temporary measure," Furman said. Nor will the tax cuts threaten the solvency of Social Security, Sperling added: "There is no way this president will let this tax cut become a ploy to undercut Social Security."