April 10th, 2012
06:11 PM ET
BOCA RATON, Fla. (CNN) – Without mentioning the names of his Republican rivals, President Barack Obama took his ideological opponents to task on Tuesday during a speech on Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University. Trumpeting themes of fairness and equal sacrifice, the president used facts and figures to argue that a continuation of current tax breaks to the nation’s top-earners would be the wrong way to tackle the country’s mounting debt.
“A lot of the folks who were peddling these trickle-down theories, including members of Congress and some people who are running for a certain office right now who shall not be named- they're doubling down on these old, broken down theories,” the president said, pointing to the budget recently passed by House Republicans as an example.
In Obama’s description, the budget “showers the wealthiest Americans with even more tax cuts and then pays for these tax cuts by gutting investments in education, in medical research, in clean energy, in health care.”
The president warned his young audience that if the plan’s proposals became law, many of them would lose $1,000 each in financial aid funding for college, and by the time they retired Medicare would have been replaced by a voucher system, the value of which would be quickly outpaced by rising health care costs.
“Now, this is not an exaggeration, this is math,” Obama said. “And when I said this about a week ago, the Republicans objected. They said we didn't specify all these cuts. Well, right, you didn't because you knew that people wouldn't accept them. So you just gave a big number, and so what we've done is we've just done the math. This is what it would mean.”
He challenged Republicans to “show us specifically where they would make those cuts,” and went on to outline what he saw as the fundamental flaw in the Republicans’ math.
“You can't give over $4 trillion worth of additional tax cuts – including to folks like me who don't need them and weren't asking for them – and it just comes from some magic tree somewhere,” Obama said.
Often interrupted by shouts of approval and chants of “four more years” from the enthusiastic audience of more than 2,000 in the university’s basketball arena, Obama spoke for more than thirty minutes, laying out arguments that will surely be central to his reelection campaign.
While acknowledging that the country’s “deficit is too high,” Obama took on Republicans who’ve proposed drastic cuts in government spending while simultaneously demanding a continuation of Bush-era tax cuts that would reduce government revenue projections.
“Their argument might actually have a shred of credibility to it if you didn't find out that they wanted to spend $4.6 trillion on lower tax rates,” Obama said of GOP deficit reduction proposals. In the president’s calculation, such a move would give Americans making more than $250,000 a year an average of $150,000 each.
But to make his argument more poignant, the president quickly shrunk that pool to millionaires and billionaires in order to explain what this money could buy the country.
“$150,000, this is what each millionaire and billionaire would get, on average,” he said, listing off seven things that this pool of money could otherwise provide for students like those at FAU and their families, including a college tuition tax credit, financial aid funding and a new computer lab for their school.
It wasn’t until the very end of his remarks that Obama finally got around to explaining the reason for his visit to the Sunshine State.
“In the next few weeks we're going to vote on something we call the Buffet rule,” Obama said, going on to sketch out the details of the rule. “I'm saying you're bringing in a million bucks or more a year then what the rule says is you should pay the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do.”
As he has in the past on issues like his American Jobs Act and the controversial debt ceiling compromise, Obama closed his speech by urging listeners to pressure their members of Congress to support the rule, which will come to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote next week.
“I want you to call your members of Congress, I want you to write them an e-mail, I want you to tweet them, tell them don't give tax breaks to folks like me who don't need them,” Obama said. “Tell them to start investing in the things that will help the economy grow. Tell them if we want to bring down our deficit sensibly, then we're got to do it in a balanced way that's fair for everybody. Remind them who they work for. Tell them to do the right thing.”