By David Jackson, USA TODAY
President Obama returns to the tax issue today, with plans to call for a one-year extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class.
Obama will again call for letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire at the end of the year, saying the revenue can be used to help reduce debt and finance middle class programs like education.
"President Obama today will push for extension of middle class tax cuts," tweeted White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. "Will the GOP join him to provide certainty for 98% of Americans?"
Obama is scheduled to speak at 11:50 a.m.
House Republicans plan to vote later this week on extending all of the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of the year.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has called for a one year extension of all the Bush tax cuts while Congress seeks to revamp the entire tax code.
Republicans say ending the Bush tax rates for the wealthy amounts to a tax hike that will affect job creators.
"In this slow economy, it appears the President is going to call for a tax hike on small businesses today," tweeted McConnell spokesman Don Stewart.
Obama and congressional Republicans will have to be done with the Bush tax cuts by the end of the year -- that's when they expire. The two parties agreed in 2010 to a two-year extension of all the cuts.
In the months since, Obama has accused the Republicans of seeking to protect their wealthy backers with a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts; Republicans say Obama wants tax hikes on the very people he wants to create jobs.
The New York Times, which first reported on the tax cut announcement, reports that Obama will campaign on the issue this week:
The White House hopes to squeeze maximum political mileage out of (today's event), surrounding Mr. Obama with families and workers who would benefit from the extension. On Tuesday, he will take his message to Iowa, the battleground state that turned him into a serious presidential contender in 2008.
In Cedar Rapids, Mr. Obama plans to visit the home of Jason and Ali McLaughlin, a high school principal and an account manager at a document-scanning company, a campaign official said. The McLaughlin family, with a combined income of $82,000, would face an extra $2,000 burden next year if the tax cuts on the middle class expired as scheduled, the campaign said.
White House officials insisted that Monday's move was more than politics. They said it would ease anxiety over the "fiscal cliff" -- the combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in at the end of this year. That one-two punch, economists say, could deal a heavy blow to an already tender economy unless the White House and Congress work out some kind of compromise.