Obama in State of the Union: Tax wealthy, help middle class

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After defiant speech, Obama heads to Republican heartland.

WASHINGTON: A day after delivering a defiant State of the Union speech to the Republican-led US Congress, President Barack Obama hit the road on Wednesday to promote his plans for lifting up the middle class. WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama’s vision of a stronger and more expensive safety net for middle class and poor Americans stands little chance of becoming law this year, but it could shape the debate for the 2016 election. The proposals offered in his speech reflected a defiant tone, a sign he would not back down despite Republican control of Congress and his own dwindling time in office to seize the country’s attention. Republicans called for Obama to be more humble, given that they took control of both chambers of Congress this month after winning November’s midterm elections handsomely. “We’ve only been here 2-1/2 weeks, and he’s put seven veto threats. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.” The plan includes raising the top capital gains tax rate by more than 4 percentage points, to 28 percent, closing certain tax loopholes (including tax benefits for corporate jet owners and special breaks for oil and gas companies) and charging banks a 0.07 percent fee if the institution owns more than $50 billion in assets. “The Republicans in the House — we have been fighting for middle-class tax breaks,” said Rep.

Even as he offered proposals such as higher taxes on the wealthy that are likely to be rejected by the Republican-controlled Congress, Obama drew attention to income inequality that has persisted despite an improving economy. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world,” he said.

Wage growth remains sluggish and the wealth gap between the most affluent and everybody else is the highest on record, according to the Pew Research Center. Let us work the legislation before you decide something’s going to be vetoed,” House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on the CBS “This Morning” programme. Why after six years does the president say we need to cut middle-class taxes?” House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday, “We’d love to do tax reforms, but you heard the president last night call for raising taxes again. Elaine Karmack, governance studies fellow at Brookings, said that Obama was essentially waving a white flag on scoring any major legislative victories in the next two years and instead looked to bolster his successor. “There’s two ways to build a presidential legacy, and it seems to me like last night Obama made a clear choice,” said Karmack. “One way is to actually try to accomplish things while you’re in office…and I think a lot of that speech indicated that he’d given up on that one.

Though in the minority, they hold sway because Democratic defectors – particularly in the Senate – could make the difference in helping Republicans pass key legislation, and even override a presidential veto. Now if he wants to raise taxes, that’s going to make it very difficult for us to come to some agreement on how we’re going to reform our broken tax code.” On the whole, middle-class Americans have yet to bounce back from the Great Recession. Already, potential Republican candidates like Rand Paul and Mitt Romney have signaled that they will devote more attention to helping the less affluent.

On foreign policy, Mr Obama called on politicians to pass a new authorisation of military force against Islamic State (IS) militants, to replace powers given to president George W Bush to prosecute the Iraq War. Mr Obama’s appeal for a new force authorisation for Washington’s five-month campaign of air strikes in Iraq and Syria was expected to be one of the few items proposed to gain congressional approval, as Republicans cast a dim view on his call for tax hikes. Hillary Clinton, the likely frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, is already facing heat from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and other figures on the left, who worry Clinton may bow to pressure from Wall Street and chip away at financial reforms enacted during Obama’s tenure. On the day the U.S. opened historic talks with the Cuban government in Havana, Menendez, who is Cuban-American and is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry warning about the Castro regime’s intentions. “Mr.

Relations between Mr Obama and Republicans got off to a rocky start this year, with the president threatening to veto seven bills so far, as well as a proposal for tougher Iran sanctions. Secretary, after five decades of authoritarian, one-party rule, we must recognize that the Castros will never relax their iron-fisted control over Cuba unless compelled to do so,” he wrote. “As the Administration pursues further engagement with Cuba, I urge you to link the pace of changes in U.S. policy to reciprocal action from the Castro regime.” Menendez voiced concern that a few of the political prisoners released by Cuba as part of the deal were rearrested, and about U.S. fugitives hiding out in Cuba, among other issues. A candidate who plans to make women’s rights a central part of her message will also have to say whether she supports Obama’s plan to make child care more affordable through tax credits and expanded preschool education, or whether she agrees that all businesses should be required to provide paid sick leave.

Alan Gross, the US aid worker whose release from detention by Cuba helped pave the way towards restoring diplomatic ties, was among Michelle Obama’s guests for the speech. “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids,” Mr Obama said. Lew put the chances of passage at “better than 50-50.” He elaborated on the administration’s tax plan, including a lower top corporate rate, ensuring more taxes are paid on foreign earnings, and closing a host of loopholes. On US-Iran relations, Mr Obama warned any move to impose new sanctions on Iran could scupper delicate negotiations aimed at reaching a complex nuclear deal. Shortly afterward, the senator scorched administration officials at a Senate committee hearing over their pushback on lawmakers’ effort to set up new potential sanctions against Iran.

The sheer power of the presidency ensures that every visit to a community college or job-training site draws a spray of local media coverage that can pressure officials to act. The White House had taken some of the suspense away from the speech this year, sending Mr Obama on the road during the past two weeks to roll out themes he planned to highlight, like the need to beef up cybersecurity and invest in infrastructure. For example, Congress hasn’t raised the minimum wage since Obama asked for that in his 2013 and 2014 speeches, but 20 states raised their own minimum wages at the beginning of this year.

And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization.” Not only could Menendez and his fellow Democrats help pass the Iran sanctions legislation out of Congress, but they potentially could provide Republicans enough votes to override the threatened presidential veto. But by highlighting places like Tennessee and Chicago that have set up their own free-tuition programs, he can pressure other states to consider the idea as well, or at least force them to restore higher-education subsidies that they slashed in the 2008-2009 recession.

On another front, liberal House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday spoke out against Obama’s call for authority to fast-track pending trade deals with Europe and Asia. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., on Wednesday vowed to fight the proposal “tooth and nail.” She and other Democrats argued the push would hurt American workers.

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