PRESIDENT Barack Obama said the US cannot afford to extend tax breaks to the richest two percent of America, in his first weekly address since the midterm elections.
Responding to Republican proposals that tax cuts approved by former president George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 be extended across the board, Mr Obama said: “I don’t see how we can afford to borrow an additional $700 billion from other countries to make all the Bush tax cuts permanent, even for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
“We’d be digging ourselves into an even deeper fiscal hole and passing the burden on to our children,” he said.
“I recognise that both parties are going to have to work together and compromise to get something done here. But I want to make my priorities clear from the start … I believe we can’t afford to borrow and spend another $700 billion on permanent tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”
However, Mr Obama insisted he wanted to extend the tax breaks for America’s middle class and urged Congress to act on the issue before the cuts expire at the end of 2010.
“If Congress doesn’t act by New Year’s Eve, middle-class families will see their taxes go up starting on New Year’s Day,” he said.
“But the last thing we should do is raise taxes on middle class families … So something’s got to be done. And I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together.
“Let’s start where we agree. All of us want certainty for middle class Americans. None of us want them to wake up on January 1st with a higher tax bill. That’s why I believe we should permanently extend the Bush tax cuts for all families making less than $250,000 a year. That’s 98 percent of the American people.”
Mr Obama also took the opportunity to “congratulate all of this week’s winners – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents” in the US midterm elections.
In their weekly response, the Republicans celebrated their midterm election wins, and said they would “ensure the next generation inherits a strong, free and prosperous America.”
Republican Marco Rubio said: “This election the American people said enough is enough.
“That message was loud and clear. We Republicans would be mistaken if we misread these results as simply an embrace of the Republican Party. This Election is a second chance. A second chance for Republicans to be what we said we were going to be.”