President Obama Not Endorsing “Millionaire’s Surtax” … Yet
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney left the door open for the president to endorse Senator Reid's proposed tax on millionaires.
October 5th, 2011
06:56 PM ET

President Obama Not Endorsing “Millionaire’s Surtax” … Yet

I asked President Obama today if he endorses Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposed “millionaire’s surtax” during a photo opportunity in the Oval Office with Honduran President Lobo.  In fact, he was asked the question three times in all by reporters covering President Lobo’s visit, but he passed on the opportunity to endorse the plan, instead staying mum.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made clear today that the White House is open to the idea.

“The meat of this legislation, the President's [jobs] proposal, are the provisions that put teachers back to work, put construction workers to work, cut taxes for working Americans, incentivize small businesses to grow and hire and increase their wages and that will be voted on,” Carney said.  “How you pay for it, we've always said, was something we were open to negotiate and debate.”

Why not issue a full endorsement of Reid’s proposed tax increase? It’s an issue of timing, a senior administration official tells me. The tax increases proposed by President Obama to pay for his jobs plan would not kick it until 2013 – he proposes a tax increase on individuals making $200,000 or more per year and couples making $250,000 or more to pay for most of his plan.

Senate Democratic aides tell CNN the Reid tax increase would take effect at the beginning of 2012, a full year earlier than the president has proposed. That would give Republican critics an election-year opening to argue that President Obama and the White House want to raise taxes while the economy is still very fragile.

Since Reid’s surtax is in line with “the Buffett Rule” – President Obama’s assertion that millionaires should not enjoy a lower tax rate than the middle class taxpayers – both White House and congressional sources are confident an agreement can be worked out.  When they find that agreement, the White House and congressional Democrats hope to present a unified front, slamming Republicans they anticipate will oppose the surtax as protecting the wealthy rather than creating jobs for middle class Americans.

Topics: President Obama • Tax cuts

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Obama will not endorse anything that doesn't allow him to spend his $500 billion dollars. If he gets his money to spend, then he will endorse.

    October 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  2. mikle

    O yee hi will. 5% from 1mil. give another vacation on $50.000.00 rent. like last time. Obama love somebody else money.

    October 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  3. artwitch

    Obama – 2012!!!!

    October 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  4. Matt Vraspir

    I am sure he will support it, but at the same time I think the republicans will continue to shoot down anything and everything they can. Thats current policy making in the Congress. NO POLICY AT ALL. It's unfortunate, but true. President Obama is doing the best job he can do. The Republicans can point fingers, yet they have no plans of their own? Pathetic, GOP strat for 2012: make terrible false claims that the American people think is true.... WOW.

    October 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  5. fahrenheit451bookstore

    Backing down already? This is the only person I know that doesn't know that you niegotiate from strength not weakness. You know we are just going to have to do this in the streets. More feet in the street. March on Washington! fah451bks

    October 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Jamaal

      He didn't even say he wasn't supporting it! give him some time to review the proposal and make a decision.

      October 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  6. Wasp

    Instead of taxing rich people to give more money to public unions and private mafia controlled unions, how about we actually fix the problem.

    We can fix trade and roll back red tape and tort on small businesses. They account for about 2/3 of all jobs in the U.S. and it would stop the offshoring and outsourcing to foreign hosts and workers overseas that's been going on enmasse. We can implement E-Verify and end chain migration. That will open up millions of jobs. Decertify public employee unions and watch gobblement costs go down. With American labor needed again having health insurance to ensure a healthy workforce will make sense. There's a lot we can do but no one wants to do those things. Just print money, borrow money, tax the rich, and prop up unions while ignoring what needs to be fixed. Tragic. Behold, the decline of the U.S. and no one's going to do a thing to stop it except deceive themselves.

    October 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  7. Les be faire

    Republicans: All rich pay more dollars in taxes than everyone else combined.

    Democrates: The rich pay a smaller percetage of their income in taxes.

    Both are correct.

    The majority of people love the flat tax idea.
    Bringing the rich closer to what nearly everyone else pays, percentage wise, gets us closer to a flat tax.

    What's the problem?

    October 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  8. Peg - Az

    Sounds good to me – the jobs created for teachers and the like have a much higher multiplier effect for the economy than do tax cuts for the wealthy – so it would be a trade off that would certainly be more beneficial for the economy as a whole while not actually causing additional stress on deficits or the debt – in addition, these teachers are sorely needed and small business certainly can use the incentives – I really can't see a good argument against it at all when you consider all of this

    October 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  9. James

    What the Hell are you talking about–It was Obama's idea to begin with–What a Wuss–

    October 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  10. pjoe

    Something to think about as you consider your vote:

    Worst US Federal Deficits:
    2009: $1,885,104,106,599.30 ... (Obama/Reid/Pelosi)
    2010: $1,651,794,027,380.00 ... (Obama/Reid/Pelosi)
    2011: $1,228,717,297,665.40 ... (Obama/Reid/Boehner)
    2008: $1,017,071,524,649.92 ... (Bush/Reid/Pelosi)
    2004: $ 595,821,633,586.70 ... (Bush/Frist/Hastert)

    October 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Peg - Az

      so what exactly are you implying – Clinton inherited about a 350,000,000,000 yearly deficit from the prior republican administration and it decreased every single year until he had a surplus – Bush inherited a surplus and then ran an average yearly deficit of around 500,000,000,000 – the policies that led to these deficits we still have in effect today adding to the deficits today – and the war costs – etc – there is a great del more to consider when looking at deficits – the factors leading to them may have been put in place years earlier, sometimes decades – the average yearly deficits in the 1980's were around 200,000,000,000 after Reagan took office – prior to this they were around 50,000,000,000 a year – and about 1/3 of that about 6-8 years prior – the truth is that we have been deficit spending every single year for over 30 years (except for a few years under Clinton) with each new administration making it worse (particularly Republicans) – we are under extraordinary circumstances with this recession (would have been a depression) and there has not been the will or the ability to alter course until now because of the economic crisis

      October 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
      • Peg - Az

        My numbers are rough general expenditures vs outlays does not figure in SS

        October 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
      • Peg - Az

        I mean revenues vs outlays

        October 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Peg - Az

      There is a serious error in your numbers – the 2009 deficit you list is based on the budget set under Bush on October 1, 2008 – the prior year – so actually the worst deficit was Bush's

      October 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • pjoe

      Normally you may have a point, but Bush had no budget that year because the 110th Congress (Pelosi/Reid) kicked the can down the road (Bush was threatening vetos on some of the appropriations). The 111th Congress (Pelosi/Reid) had Obama sign an Omnibus bill in March 2009.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:11 am |
      • jean2009

        @pjoe Even right-wing Cato disagrees with you.

        October 6, 2011 at 11:46 am |
      • Peg - Az

        Lets all simply get real here – the collapse and recession itself is responsible for about 1/3 of the deficits according to the CBO – Bush's TARP and the Stimulus probably added another third, (this includes all the new tax cuts to help boost the economy as well that were in the stimulus) – And both of these things were unnecessary because of the crisis – the other third or more of the deficit is due to the policies that have been in place for quite some time and include the wars and the tax cuts from the Bush administration. Prior to this, Clinton had handed Bush a yearly budget surplus (even though the policies in place prior to when Clinton took office – from the first Bush presidency) were causing and average deficit of around 300 billion per year), Clinton had turned this around. The administration before this Reagan had an average yearly deficit of 200 billion. this is not a new problem

        October 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
      • Peg - Az

        Sorry – I meant to say both of these things were "NECESSARY" because of the crisis

        October 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  11. Ruby M. Fletcher

    AS long as the rich are tax, I don't care how they do it, but they need to do what they said they were going to do. They have the majority of the people behind them, so they need to go far it.

    October 6, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  12. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Go for it OBAMA! Don't worry about what the GOP/TEAPARTY thugs think or couldn't be any worse than all the BS they've spewed against you already anyway! Harry Reid has come up with a great idea! @James; Wuss? I wasn't under the impression that the surtax on millionaires was Pres Obamas' idea. I understood his idea was to soon role back those 'BUSH taxcuts' on the rich; 250Kers and above. That's not a surtax! That's just going back to their 'true' fair taxes! They hadn't paid them in over 10 years!

    October 6, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  13. Freemanintexas

    President Obama Not Endorsing “Millionaire’s Surtax” … ( YET ) OBAMA will endorse any tax, on any thing, at any time!!! Remember that cousin Pookey wants smore pie!!! ONLY GOVERNMENT HOPE & CHANGE WIN THE FUTURE

    October 6, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  14. racegirl1

    I like the new Reid proposal, tax starting at a million, because up to a million if you take into account where you live and if you have 2 to 4 kids you get no tax breaks for colleges and the like. So a million would be a good place to start. Do the surtax on capital gains this is where the real money is. The hedge fund people, see these people know where to hide their money and we need to tap into where they are hiding it. A top 1% can take $5.00 salary and the rest put it into stocks and earn capital gains and taxed at 15%. We can't afford to do that because if we are lucky the only stocks we invest in is our 401 retirements and we know how rich we are getting don't we. So go Harry and let it start in 2012. I think people need to see who Congress is working for. If they are working for the super rich and the corporations then we don't need to vote for them. Since the corporations are people let the corporation vote for them. Their are more of us than corporations. If the tea party can't see this they will not see anything. I wish they would pick up a newspaper or check out the congress website to see what bills are being proposed to see they are not for the middle class only the rich. PLEASE READ PEOPLE AND DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK AND STOP BELIEVING EVERYTHING THESE POLITICIANS TELL YOU. LAZINESS WILL GET YOU NOWHERE FAST!!!!

    October 6, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  15. Ray E. Georgia

    Well OK Reid. 5 Percent more from the Rich, 5 percent more Unemployment. Seems fair to me. But, aren't you just Re-Arranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic?

    October 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  16. Dean

    My anual salary is currently just under $272,000. I'd love for Obama to come to my door and ask me to give more of it up to the federal government.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  17. C-Lo

    Why $1MM? or $250,000? I think it should start at $143,983.34, or maybe $52,392.44. Why not $4528.88 (that would hit about the top 5% of income earners globally). These are all arbitrary "feel-good" numbers.

    If taxing income, from any source, for the gov't to spend is such a great idea that creates jobs, why doesn't the middle class want to have their taxes raised? By the logic presented, the more tax the gov't brings in, the better the economy will do. If this logic works, let's all agree to chip in an additional 5%, and if that's good, why not raise it to 20%–100% tax anyone?

    October 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • C-Lo

      And no, I am not advocating 0 Tax, the government does have certain functions that need to be funded (infrastructure, defense, courts, etc.) What I'm saying is if Keynsian economics works so well, why are middle class individuals opposed to paying more themselves?

      October 6, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  18. RW

    This surtax on millionaires as proposed will disproportionally hurt lottery winners, professional athletes, and entertainers (actors, singers, comedians, and authors) that only have one time windfalls or are only hot for a few short years. It will not faze multi-millionaires and billionaires that make millions of dollars year in and year out. What we are talking about here is taxable income. The very wealthy are experts at sheltering their income, only the newly wealthy will be effected by this legislation. The two questions that need to be answered regarding this tax are Q1) How much gross income has to be made to leave a million dollars of taxable income? Q2) How many people will actually make a million dollars of taxable income? I imagine that with tax shelters an individual has to make quite a bit more than a million dollars of gross income to end up with a million dollars of taxable income. I doubt that very many people will actually end up with a million dollars of taxable income and pay this tax rate. Since most Americans working fulltime jobs make between twenty thousand and fifty thousand dollars of actual taxable income it makes a lot more sense to start this tax at seventy five thousand dollars of taxable income per individual at two and a half percent and then five percent at one hundred thousand and then raise it an additional one and a quarter percent for each additional twenty thousand dollars of taxable income and cap it at ten percent and run the program for ten years not just one. This will work because there are a lot more people make between seventy thousand and one million dollars of taxable income than there are making over a million dollars of taxable income. This is the best way to pay off our debt, fix social security & medicare and rebuild our infrastructure. If this is done, in ten years our country will once again be the strongest most advanced economy and society on earth.

    October 7, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  19. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Could it be that the MIDDLE-CLASS: working or retired; the MIDDLE-CLASS: whom many work for or worked for companies and corporations owned by those 'millionaires', which gave way to the opportunities for them to rise to the status of 'MILLIONAIRES'? Could it be that they often are underpaid already and simply don't have the finances available to PAY anymore taxes, but the people they work or worked for RAKED it in?!? For ANYONE to think of asking the working-poor or retired for another dime is HEARTLESS!

    October 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • C-Lo

      A couple things, Liz. First I apparently didn't make my point clear, what I meant to convey is that the numbers "they" come up with are arbitrary. Doesn't matter what that number is, as long as it't more than "you" are making. Hey, I'm making less than $98,000 per year, let's set it at $100,000, or hey, I'm making $238,000, please keep it above $300,000. Let's base it on median, no, modal income. No let's base it on...

      Second, the "working poor" in this country have it better than 95% of the world's population, they are "poor" compared to their neighbor because they have last year's iPhone, a tube tv and an 8 year old car, that's probably worth more than the annual incomes of most of the world's households. We have gone from talking about starving children to "food insecurity."

      The left's supposed base argument is that more taxes can generate a better economy by the hand of government that will generate a higher standard of living for all (Keynsian economics). Additionally they think the gov't is a better steward of our money than we are. So don't think of it as "taxing the middle class/working poor" think of it as an investment through gov't to increase their standard of living. For every dollar that goes to the gov't it will generate economic activity bringing up the wages of the "working poor" by more than the dollar they gave.

      Unless I missed something that says that the dollars millionaires or thousandaires are taxed are more productive dollars. If it's about generating economic activity through the gov't, then it shouldn't matter where those dollars come from.

      What I am advocating is not to tax the middle class or working poor, it's that the philosophy, when carried down to the bottom dollar, doesn't make sense. Anything the gov't gives to someone had to be made/earned by someone else first, then the gov't gets their processing fees thereby diluting the effectiveness of each dollar, not to mention the rampant abuse of gov't programs.

      October 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  20. Liz Carter in Georgia

    So for all these years, what you're claiming is 'we the people' who make up what's called a Democratic Form of Government; some of whom are 'capitalists'; have capitalized off of said government, are Americans, actually functioning under a 'socialist government', huh? If yes, we should've been howling at 'government' long before Jan 2009? Barack Obama walks into the OVAL OFFICE to governmental policies, set up as such long before he was even born Aug 4, 1961, one of my main gripes is, he's the socialist?!?

    October 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  21. Liz Carter in Georgia

    The philosophy when carried down to the bottom dollar doesn't make since? Well do the numbers make since? That's the question; not the philosophy! I believe ethically, patriotically, and loyalisticly, as they claim to be, it's the RIGHT thing to do! 'To whom much is given, much is required'.And not only that! The GOP/Teaparty come off acting like they're such the CHRISTIANS, believing in the BIBLE and all. They've called Mormon Romney a 'cultist', so who else ought to be annying it up? They're Americanmade!

    October 8, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  22. jean2009

    The big problem is the right-wing teapotty people have been suckered into believing we are broke by the very people who should be paying more tax to dig us out of this mess. If we put people to work at a living wage (or better) we can pay down our current deficit. The same people who suckered them are the same who have been living off the fat of what was built during the 50's & 60's. We need to create jobs that will rebuild our decaying infrastructure. If we don't get cracking we are going to be behind every nation on earth.

    Socialist good grief!
    We have been mostly a socialist government from day what!.
    Our interstate highways are build as government contracted projects.
    Fire – Police government projects
    Public Schools government projects.
    For many things funding them works better when we do them as a government project.
    The problem is no one wants to be taxed to pay for them.. so since when is has that not been the case.
    A thriving country can live off the infrastructure built by their parents for only so long before it falls into serious disarray.

    Basically that is the reason Rome fell. Had they used good sense and spend their money to maintain and sustain what they had, instead of endless wars to control more, they would have managed just fine. The major problem is wealthy capitalist have found they can make a lot more money bleeding our system dry to fund wars. I say we tax those who can afford being taxed for the things we need to make this country work for everyone...not just the wealthy few.

    October 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      And when the rich leave the country for better land what will you do? One half of the people do not pay federal tax. Why not raise the living conditions of those people so they can start paying their fair share.

      October 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  23. Liz Carter in Georgia


    October 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  24. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Leave the country for a better land? Well that wouldn't be too surprising...Yep..bleed the nation dry and take the blood, goods and spoils to a better land! Then you wonder why most other Americans consider them as greedy? That would certainly substantiate that claim! One half of which people do not pay taxes? Which people?...Do you mean welfare and social security insurance recipients? Do you mean the jobless and the unemployable? Who are you expecting to 'raise the living conditions' of those people?

    October 10, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  25. Liz Carter in Georgia

    BTW, whatever happened to all of the proclaimed 'we want our country back'?...all of the so claimed, so-called patriotism and loyalists? Love of our country..'THIS IS MY COUNTRY' mentality? It's all a big fat lie isn't it? Just wearing that flag-pin on your lapel doesn't prove a thing. If this is 'your' country Mr & Mrs Wealthy Rich, you must pay your taxes! Americans pay taxes on what they own, ie., property, cars, income; state, federal and county all the time! WE GET NO 'TAXCUTS' EITHER!

    October 10, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  26. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Oh! Republicans claim to be such the 'Christians', but they're willing to kick the poor/middle-class, disabled, seniors, jobless, disenfranchised to the curb, to make sure the rich keep getting richer and staying rich! Evidently they 'cherry-pick' the scriptures that suit or justify there devious agendas. They claim to love the LORD, but they ignore..'to whom much is given..much is required'. Hypocrites!! GOD hates a lukewarm hypocrite worse than he does a sinner! You may as well leave the MORMON alone!

    October 10, 2011 at 8:07 am |