(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama offered a familiar tune on taxes today in the East Room of the White House, calling for an end to Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy while urging an extension of current rates for the middle class.
“Let's agree to do what we agree on, right?” Obama said in the East Room, surrounded by what the White House described as members of the middle class.
“That's what compromise is all about. Let's not hold the vast majority of Americans and our entire economy hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy.”
Obama said he wants to extend the tax cuts for earners of $250,000 of less, or 98 percent of Americans, and let rates on earners above that level rise to what they were during the Clinton era.
He said GOP claims that his proposal would hurt job creators are unfounded. “The proposal I make today would extend these tax cuts for 97 percent of all small business owners in America. In other words, 97 percent of small businesses fall under the $250,000 threshold,” he said.
Ultimately, Obama conceded, the question of what to do about tax rates for earners of $250,000 or more a year probably won’t be resolved until after the November election.
“My opponent will fight to keep them in place. I will fight to end them. But that argument shouldn't threaten you. It shouldn't threaten the 98 percent of Americans who just want to know that their taxes won't go up next year,” he said.
“Middle-class families and small-business owners, they deserve that guarantee. They deserve that certainty. It will be good for the economy, and it will be good for you. We should give you that certainty now. We should do it now.”
“My message to Congress is this: Pass a bill extending the tax cuts for the middle class,” he added. “I will sign it tomorrow. Pass it next week, I'll sign it next week. Pass it next -- next -- well, you get the idea.”
Mitt Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul said in a statement, "President Obama’s response to even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase. It just proves again that the President doesn't have a clue how to get America working again and help the middle class. The President's latest bad idea is to raise taxes on families, job creators, and small businesses."
"Almost half a million fewer Americans are working today than the day Barack Obama took office, and we've just come through the worst job creation quarter in two years. Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney understands that the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone. He has a plan to permanently lower marginal rates, help middle-class Americans save and invest, and jumpstart economic growth and job creation,” the statement continued.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio