Obama Veto of Tax Cuts for Wealthy: `Nothing New,’ White House Says

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Barack Obama during a campaign event at Ohio University on Oct. 17, 2012 in Athens.

President Barack Obama’s insistence on higher taxes for the highest earners, particularly as it applies to the solution for averting the “fiscal cliff” looming at year’s end, is nothing new.

So says the White House, in response to a Washington Post report today that Obama is prepared to veto legislation on year-end tax increases and spending cuts unless Republicans accept his insistence that the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year are allowed to expire.  The Post says Obama is “ready to play hardball.”

Obama wants to continue the cuts for the majority of Americans. Republicans want to extend them for all, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is proposing an additional 20-percent cut in income tax rates across the board.

“There is nothing new in that story,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One today en route to a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “The president has long made clear that he will veto an extension of tax cuts for the top 2 percent of Americans, wealthiest Americans. That has been his position, as you know, for very long time.

“If there is concern about what we can do right now to address the so-called fiscal cliff,” he said, “the House ought to follow the Senate and pass the extension of tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people, for the middle class, and that would substantially address some of the fiscal cliff and that would provide assurance to middle class Americans that their taxes will not go up and it is the right and responsible thing to do.”

The Romney campaign beat the White House to the quote punch this morning, with campaign spokesman Ryan Williams issuing a statement about the president’s approach on “job-killing tax increases” that could threaten another recession.

“Rather than work in a bipartisan manner as the ‘fiscal cliff’ approaches, President Obama prefers to issue veto threats and simply ignore the other party,” Williams wrote. “We can’t afford four more years of this failed leadership. When Mitt Romney is president, he (will) work with members of both parties to cut spending, restore our AAA credit rating, and get our economy growing again.”

John McCormick and Hans Nichols contributed to this report. 

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