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09.19.11

Obama: 'This Is Not Class Warfare'

In a blunt speech, Obama pushed a $3 trillion deficit-reduction plan that would raise taxes on the rich and spare most entitlements. Daily Beast contributors weigh in. Plus, watch video.

At a press briefing at the White House on Monday, President Obama formally announced a package revealed over the weekend to trim $3 trillion off the federal deficit over the next several years. "This is not class warfare," Obama insisted. "It's math." Picking up on the theme of his recent jobs speech, Obama demanded that Congress move on the act immediately. “They should pass it right away. I’m ready to sign a bill,” the president said. He said he had hoped to reach an agreement on a “grand bargain” during the debt-ceiling debate, but that House Speaker John Boehner “walked away from a balanced package.” The president stressed the necessity of new revenue to solve the budget crisis, and said he would veto any bill that didn't bring in new money. "We can't cut our way out of this hole," he said. The new proposal would establish a minimum tax rate on millionaires to avoid loopholes, and would make cuts to entitlements and Pentagon spending. Obama said the bill would cut $2 in government spending for every $1 in new revenue.

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This Is Not Class Warfare

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Obama's Debt Reduction Dare
By John Avlon

President Obama was playing the happy warrior while presenting his $3 trillion debt reduction plan in a Rose Garden address, welcoming a fight over raising taxes on the wealthy while a tough re-election looms.

It is an ambitious plan in terms of debt reduction, more than doubling the $1.5 trillion benchmark set out for the Joint Special Committee. It is also a decidedly base-pleasing proposal, drawing a presidential line in the sand on requiring revenue increases as part of a "balanced plan" which promises to match spending cuts to tax hikes by a 2-to-1 ratio.

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Obama's Deficit Plan Falls Short
By Zachary Karabell

It is, of course, the “Buffett Rule”—a de facto millionaire’s tax—that has received the most attention. As proposed, it’s a minimum tax rather a tax increase, and its revenue implications are far from certain. As a political gauntlet, however, it has clear appeal. Obama took the charges that he is fostering class warfare and shot them back, saying that asking those with more to pay more isn’t warfare; it’s just fair. And he reiterated that there has to be revenue in order to offset escalating expenses, in addition to cutting spending. “It’s not class warfare,” he said. “It’s math.”

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The GOP Is Out on a Limb
By Andrew Sullivan

The president's policy is simple, really. More stimulus now, more fiscal retrenchment later. And there is no way that we can—or should—balance the budget entirely on the backs of the poor and the middle class. There has to be some contribution from those most successful in an economy that continues to reward them more and more generously, even as the country's debt escalates. This is a sensible set of proposals, hard to oppose without resorting to hard ideology, and worth trying.

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Obama’s Deficit Plan: Neither Bold nor Courageous
By Mark McKinnon

Judging from President Obama’s Rose Garden speech today outlining his proposal to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years, there are two groups in America who apparently have job security and are working overtime: his pollsters and straw men.

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Obama's Impassioned Deficit Sell
By Daniel Stone

The White House’s laundry list of deficit-cutting ideas resembled the “grand bargain” the White House flirted with in talks with congressional Republicans this summer. The idea never got off the ground after House leaders walked away from discussions. Senior House leaders, as well as many GOP presidential candidates, panned the package over the weekend.

Obama took aim at Speaker John Boehner directly, ridiculing his and his party’s negotiating style. Last week Boehner gave a speech saying deliberations couldn’t be mired in “my-way-or-the-highway thinking,” yet immediately drew a line in the sand against any tax reform. “So the speaker says we can’t have it my way or the highway and then basically says ‘my way—or the highway,’” Obama said to some laughs.

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Obama: Tax the Rich