De­fi­ant Obama de­fends tax cuts, eyes 2012

The Pak Banker - - International3 -

WASHINGTON: US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has come out fight­ing, urg­ing Demo­cratic al­lies to back a hard-won com­pro­mise deal on tax cuts and putting Repub­li­cans foes on no­tice ahead of the 2012 elec­tions.

In face of crit­i­cism from many on the left of the Demo­cratic Party, Obama pas­sion­ately de­fended the deal that will see tax breaks ex­tended for the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans say­ing his crit­ics had to take a long-term view.

"I'm as op­posed to the high-end tax cuts to­day as I've been for years. In the long run, we sim­ply can't af­ford them. And when they ex­pire in two years, I will fight to end them," Obama vowed at a White House press con­fer­ence.

An­a­lysts have said the tax breaks will add some 900 bil­lion dol­lars over two years to the al­ready mas­sive US na­tional debt. Obama de­fi­antly warned Repub­li­cans he would turn the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, when he is ex­pected to seek a sec­ond four-year term, into a ref­er­en­dum on their dif­fer­ing eco­nomic vi­sions.

"On the Repub­li­can side, this is their holy grail. These tax cuts for the wealthy. This... seems to be their cen­tral eco­nomic doc­trine," Obama said, pledg­ing to fight any move to make tax breaks for the wealthy per­ma­nent.

The US pres­i­dent bro­kered a deal Mon­day on keep­ing tax cuts for all fol­low­ing weeks of po­lit­i­cal wran­gling af­ter ma­jor Repub­li­can gains in Novem­ber's con­gres­sional polls limited his room for ma­neu­ver. In re­turn, Repub­li­cans agreed to a 13month ex­ten­sion of job­less ben­e­fits set to ex­pire on De­cem­ber 31, and which would have seen mil­lions lose their mea­gre in­comes as un­em­ploy­ment hov­ers just be­low 10 per­cent. The deal has been met with a frosty re­cep­tion from some Demo­cratic law­mak­ers, who would have pre­ferred to see any blame for fail­ing to reach a deal fall on Repub­li­cans.

Demo­cratic Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid said the agree­ment was "only a frame­work" and vowed to work with the White House and Repub­li­cans to ad­dress "wide-rang­ing" con­cerns among his rank-and-file.

"It's some­thing that's not done yet. Let's make that clear. We're work­ing through all this," he told re­porters.

But Obama ar­gued that do­ing noth­ing was not an op­tion and tak­ing a "purist po­si­tion" meant the Amer­i­can peo­ple would be the losers.

"If we don't get my op­tion through the Se­nate right now and we do noth­ing, then on Jan­uary 1st of this 2011, the av­er­age fam­ily is go­ing to see their taxes go up about 3,000 dol­lars," he warned.

"At any given junc­ture, there are go­ing to be times where my pre­ferred op­tion, what I'm ab­so­lutely pos­i­tive is right, I can't get done," the US pres­i­dent said, stab­bing his fin­ger for em­pha­sis.

"And so then my ques­tion is, does it make sense for me to tack a lit­tle bit this way or tack a lit­tle bit that way be­cause I'm keep­ing my eye on the long term and the long fight." In one of his most fiery speeches for some time, Obama said the deal achieved his goal of avoid­ing a tax hike on the mid­dle class amid the sput­ter­ing eco­nomic re­cov­ery. -Afp

SEOUL: South Korean farm­ers take part in a rally to protest against the South Korean Free Trade agree­ment (FTA) with the USA at Seoul Rail­way Sta­tion on Wed­nes­day. -Reuters

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