Pool photo by Yuri Gripasl/Getty Images.
President Obama this week is renewing his push to extend tax cuts for the middle class, a move that appears designed to shift the political conversation away from the lackluster jobs market and toward the larger question of tax fairness.
Speaking from the White House, Obama on Monday called on Congress to pass a one-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 a year. As the Associated Press reports, that proposal puts him at odds with House Republicans who want a one-year extension for all of the Bush tax cuts, including those for Americans with higher incomes. (Obama's proposal could also draw some complaints from Democratic congressional leaders, who want the tax cuts extended for anyone earning up to $1 million.)
The New York Times explains the political rationale behind the president's proposal:
But by calling for an extension for just a year, Mr. Obama hopes to make Republicans look obstructionist and unreasonable. Trying to bounce back from another weak jobs report on Friday, he also hopes to deepen the contrast with his challenger, Mitt Romney. On Friday, the president said Mr. Romney would "give $5 trillion of new tax cuts on top of the Bush tax cuts, most of them going to the wealthiest Americans.”
And the AP reports more on the larger Democrat messaging machine:
The president's announcement Monday comes as Democrats embark on a coordinated attack on Romney, intensifying calls for him to explain offshore bank accounts and release several years of tax returns. The strategy is aimed at portraying Romney, whose personal wealth could exceed $250 million, as disconnected from middle-class voters.
Team Obama is framing the proposal in the context of the upcoming "fiscal cliff," when the Bush tax cuts (along with a number of other cuts) are slated to end in January unless Congress acts. According to the Times, a one-year extension of the middle-class tax cuts would cost $150 billion in revenue, while some economists argue that ending the cuts for the wealthiest Americans would generate $850 billion over 10 years. Republicans argue that the government should extend the cuts for everyone and cut spending further in order to reduce the deficit.
House Republicans, meanwhile, are playing their own post-July Fourth recess politics with a planned vote Monday to repeal the health care law.