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Entries in Middle Class (11)

Sunday
May052013

Obama to Start ‘Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours’

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will kick off a series of Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours with a trip Thursday to Austin, Texas, a White House spokesman announced Sunday.

“In his State of the Union, the president laid out his belief that the middle class is the engine of economic growth. To reignite that engine, there are three areas we need to invest in: 1) jobs, 2) skills 3) opportunity,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“Even though some in Congress are determined to create more self-inflicted economic wounds, there are things Washington could be doing right now to help American businesses, schools and workers,” he said. “We need to build on the progress we’ve made over the last four years, and that means investing in things that are already creating good-paying, stable jobs that can support a middle class family.”

In Austin, the president plans to visit Manor New Tech High School, meet with technology entrepreneurs, visit a tech company, and meet with middle class workers, according to the White House.

“He will visit these places to learn what has helped them become successful and use these models of growth to encourage Congress to act,” Earnest said.

“Things are getting better, but our economic recovery is not as strong as it could be and far too many middle class families are still struggling. The question is, will Congress will join with the president to make sure the middle class is strong and secure,” Earnest said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec292012

Weekly Address: President Obama Wants Congress to Stop an Income Tax Hike for the Middle Class  

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama reminds the nation he wants to protect the middle class from an income tax hike.

Obama says, “Leaders in Congress are working on a way to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I believe we may be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time.”

If an agreement is not reached in time, the president will “urge the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on a basic package that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends vital unemployment insurance for Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction.”

Obama warns that “if [Congress] still want to vote no, and let this tax hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote.”

The president closes with “You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day.  The folks you sent here to serve should do the same.  We cannot let Washington politics get in the way of America’s progress.  We’ve got to do what it takes to protect the middle class, grow this economy, and move our country forward."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov292012

Pelosi Urges Vote on Middle Class Tax Relief

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged Republicans to allow a vote on legislation to extend tax cuts on the first $250,000 of personal income and delay the debate over tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers until next year.

“This doesn’t have to be a cliffhanger,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said after a meeting Thursday afternoon with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “The president has his pen poised to sign a middle-income tax cut. It has already passed the Senate. House Democrats are prepared to vote for it. We urge our Republican colleagues in the House to bring a middle-income tax cut to the floor.”

Earlier Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said that there has been “no substantive progress” during the past two weeks of negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

Pelosi surmised that extending tax breaks for the middle class would be “a Christmas present to the American people” that would not only increase the confidence of consumers, but also financial markets.

“The president has been clear, and we support him, on holding firm to the … expiration of tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year,” she added. “That would be part of a big, bold and balanced package that has big cuts.”

A senior aide to the speaker revealed that Geithner came to Boehner with an offer of $1.6 trillion in tax increases over the next decade, an undisclosed amount of new stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and an end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

Another attendee at the Geithner meeting, the Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn of South Carolina, called the meeting “very fruitful.”

“The time for posturing is over,” Clyburn said. “We are in the holiday season when people would love to turn to their families with some certainty, and I think we ought to give them that.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra, the Democratic Caucus chairman, said that Geithner’s equation is “simple math” and results in “a bold but balanced plan that could easily get the [president's] signature and votes” to pass into law.

“We believe that we can move forward,” Becerra, D-Calif., said. “At least let us vote here in the House of Representatives on what has already passed in the Senate on a bipartisan basis, and that is protection for the middle class from seeing the rates rise for them.”

While Boehner seemed glum about the prospects of a deal, Pelosi said she was confident the leaders would strike a bipartisan agreement.

“Why am I confident? Because it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “They’re tough choices for us. This isn’t easy, but it’s necessary, and I have confidence that my Republican colleagues will see the light and at least pass the middle-income tax cut.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

Poll: Among Cliff-Avoidance Options, Most Favor Targeting Wealthy 

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the fiscal cliff drawing closer, raising taxes on wealthy Americans remains a popular option. The public divides closely on reducing federal income tax deductions, while two-thirds oppose another possibility, which is raising the age for Medicare eligibility.

Sixty percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll support raising taxes on incomes more than $250,000 a year, long a popular option overall, but also a divisive one: While 73 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents are in favor, far fewer Republicans, 39 percent, agree.

Notably, “strong” support for raising taxes on the well-off is nearly double strong opposition, 42 vs. 23 percent. That’s because 57 percent of Democrats are strongly in favor, as are 42 percent of independents, vs. just 22 percent of Republicans.

While well short of a majority, support for a tax increase among four in 10 Republicans may provide some wiggle room to Republican leaders seeking compromise. Some, notably, have indicated a willingness to back off from the no-tax pledge many have taken.

Results of this poll echo the national exit poll in the presidential election, in which, given other options, 40 percent of Mitt Romney’s supporters favored raising taxes either on the wealthy (28 percent) or on all Americans (12 percent). That rose to 79 percent among Obama’s supporters -- 66 percent favoring a tax hike on the well-off, 13 percent on everyone.

DEDUCT – Americans divide on another item on the table, reducing income-tax deductions. In a question testing the concept generally -- that is, without suggesting that wealthier Americans would be harder hit -- 49 percent oppose limiting deductions, while 44 percent are in favor. On this option, strong opposition exceeds strong support, although intensity isn’t high on either side, 28 vs. 20 percent.

Partisan divisions on this question are less pronounced than they are on a tax hike for the better-off: Support ranges from 45 percent of Democrats and independents to 39 percent of Republicans; opposition, 48 to 51 percent across these groups. “Strong” opposition, likewise, is similar across partisan groups, 26 to 30 percent.

Openness to raising taxes on higher-income Americans suggests that views on limiting deductions might gain popularity to the extent that this approach, too, is targeted at the wealthy. Indeed, opposition to limiting deductions peaks at 58 percent among $100,000-plus income earners, vs. 47 percent among those with household incomes less than $50,000.

MEDICARE – Sixty-seven percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, oppose another suggestion, raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.  And on this idea, strong opposition surpasses strong support by more than 3-1, 49 to 14 percent.

Opposition to increasing the Medicare eligibility age crosses partisan and ideological lines; it’s 68 percent or more among Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives alike. Instead views relate to age; opposition peaks at 78 percent among adults age 50-64. It’s also higher among women and people with less than $100,000 incomes, compared with men and the better-off.

Views on raising the Medicare age are about the same now as they were in a similar question asked in 1997. However, support was 16 points higher than it is now -- 46 percent vs. 30 percent -- in a 2011 question that specified the change would be gradual, and was proposed “in order to reduce the national debt.” Similarly, support for raising taxes on the wealthy was higher, by 12 points, when it was posed in the context of debt reduction. These results suggest that what may matter in fiscal cliff talks is not only what’s cut or raised -- but how and why.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Boehner Rejects Obama’s Request To Extend Middle Class Tax Cut

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Fresh off his reelection as House speaker Wednesday afternoon, John Boehner emphasized the need for bold leadership in order to repair the ailing economy, telling reporters that job creation remains the top priority for congressional Republicans.

“Our majority is a primary line of defense for the American people against a government that spends too much, borrows too much when left unchecked,” said Boehner, R-Ohio. “With so many challenges that are ahead of us, the American people need to see us act courageously, think selflessly and lead boldly. And our majority is up to the task, and I expect the president is, as well.”

A short time earlier, the House Republican Conference voted Boehner in to another two-year term as speaker.

Boehner rejected the president’s call earlier Wednesday for House Republicans to quickly pass Senate legislation that would extend middle class tax cuts, and he alternatively called on the Senate to take up House-passed legislation to extend all of the current tax rates for one year.

“Instead of the House moving on the Senate bill, the Senate ought to move on the House bill,” Boehner said. “We are not going to hurt our economy and make job creation more difficult, which is exactly what that plan would do. It’s not the direction that we want to go because it’s going to hurt job creators in America.”

Boehner is set to join President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the White House on Friday to begin conversations on the fiscal cliff.

The fiscal cliff, which includes expiring tax cuts for the rich and middle class, $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year, and a debt limit increase, remains the most daunting challenge for Congress during the lame duck session.

Despite the vast disagreement between Republicans and Democrats on taxes, the speaker said he remains “optimistic” that leaders will be able to avert a crisis.

“If you’ve looked closely at what the president had to say and you look closely at what I have had to say, you know, there are not barriers here to sitting down and beginning to work through this process,” Boehner said. “I don’t think anyone on either side of the aisle underestimates the difficulty that faces us.

“You’ve got members on both sides of the aisle, you know, who have their own ideas about how to resolve this,” he added. “If we stay focused on what’s in the best interest of our country and what’s in the best interests of the American people, I’m confident that this issue can be resolved.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

Ryan Backs Biden on ‘Buried’ Middle Class

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BURLINGTON, Iowa) -- Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan found a rare point of agreement Tuesday with his Democratic opponent, after Vice President Joe Biden said earlier that the middle class has been “buried” over the last four years.

Ryan, on the last stop of his bus tour of the battleground state of Iowa,  said he and presidential candidate Mitt Romney agree that middle-class Americans “are being buried by the Obama administration’s economic failures.”

“Vice President Biden just today said that the middle class over the last four years has been quote ‘buried’ -- we agree,” Ryan said to a crowd in the parking lot of a campaign office. “That means we need to stop digging by electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States. Of course the middle class has been buried. They are being buried by regulations, they are being buried by taxes … they are being buried by borrowing, they are being buried by the Obama administration’s economic failures.”

Ryan continued, saying, “Help is on the way”

“You see, the Obama economic agenda failed not because it was stopped, it failed because it was passed,” Ryan said. “Let’s not forget that when the president came into office, he came into one-party rule. He had the ability and the chance to pass everything of his choosing and he did that. And now we’re suffering the consequences.”

At a campaign event in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Biden somewhat stepped on his campaign message when he said the middle class was “buried” over the last four years, the time in which President Obama has been in office.

“This is deadly earnest. How they can justify, how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years, how in the Lord’s name can they justify raising their taxes. We’ve seen this movie before,” Biden said, while trying to accuse Mitt Romney and Ryan of raising taxes on the middle class.

The Romney campaign quickly jumped on the comment, circulating the video, and Romney even tweeted that he “agree(d)” with Biden.

Biden’s account tweeted that he was “clear” in his remarks that “Romney-Ryan would take us back to the failed Bush policies that crashed our economy.”

In front of several hundred people outside of a campaign office, Ryan praised those who work inside in this swing district, saying “human interaction” is how “we win elections,” and again urging those on board to talk to their neighbors who are still deciding.

“What we do talking person to person, this is how we win elections,” Ryan said, standing in front of the Romney-Ryan campaign bus. “Human interaction, the conversations we have to have with one another, that is how we save our country. This is how we do it. I’m sure each and every one of you can think off the top of your head somebody who thought the hope and change of 2008 sounded great. I’m sure you can think of somebody who voted for that who’s probably thinking twice right now.”

This was Ryan’s final event on a two-day bus tour through the state, the sixth he spent in the state as Romney’s running mate. Earlier Tuesday, he visited a coffeehouse that’s a must-stop on the presidential caucus circuit, urging voters at Elly’s Tea and Coffee House in Muscatine to vote for the GOP ticket.

Recent polls in Iowa find that Romney is lagging slightly behind the president. A Des Moines Register poll from last week had Obama with 49 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Romney.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

President Obama: GOP Holding Middle-Class Tax Cuts ‘Hostage’

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(NEW ORLEANS) -- Just hours after the Senate voted to extend tax cuts for the middle class, President Obama accused House Republicans of holding the tax cuts “hostage” until the nation agrees to spend $1 trillion on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

Speaking to supporters at the House of Blues, the president praised the Senate for moving forward with his plan to extend the Bush-era tax rate for families earning less than $250,000 a year and to let the rate expire for higher earners.

“This is something I deeply believe in, because the middle class is still struggling, recovering from this recession.  You don’t need your taxes to go up and we could give you certainty right now,” he said.

When it comes to House Republicans, however, the president said their desire to preserve the tax rate for all earners “makes no sense.”

“If Congress doesn’t act, the typical middle-class family is going to see their tax bill go up about $2,200. Small businesses will also see their taxes go up,” he said. “But so far, they don’t see it that way.  Gov.  Romney doesn’t see it that way.”

The president cast the dueling tax plans as indicative of the broader economic visions at stake in the election.

"They believe in top-down economics," he said of Republicans. “Their plan is to cut more taxes for the wealthy, cut more regulations on banks and corporations, cut more investments in things like education, job training, science, research -- all with the thought that somehow that’s going to help us create jobs.  That’s what Mitt Romney believes. That’s what Washington Republicans believe.”

“That’s not what I believe.  That’s not what you believe.  That’s not what most Americans believe.  We believe not in top-down economics; we believe in middle-class-out economics.  We believe in bottom-up economics.  That’s what we’re fighting for,” he said.

The president spoke before about 400 supporters who’d paid at least $250 each to attend the event, one of two fundraisers Obama attended in the Big Easy Wednesday night.

In shirt-sleeves and a loose tie, a relaxed Obama said it was good to be back in New Orleans.

“I’ve got to admit I was thinking about just blowing everything off and going and getting something to eat,” he joked. “The next time I come down, drinks are on me.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul092012

Obama to Call for Tax Cut Extension for Middle-Income Earners

McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Monday will call for a one-year extension of the “Bush tax cuts” for individuals making less than $250,000 a year, while allowing cuts for those earning above that level to expire at the end of the year, a campaign official tells ABC News.  

This will be the focus of the Obama campaign and White House this week, including the president’s round of local affiliate interviews on Monday and campaign events in Iowa on Tuesday.

The president will announce his proposal in the East Room of the White House at 11:50 a.m. ET.  It comes as part of a continuing effort by Obama to change the subject from jobs and the economy, particularly after last Friday’s Labor Department report.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Poll Compares Obama to GOP on Economy, Middle Class

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- According to a poll of 1,001 people, Republicans in Congress have got Wall Street and large corporations’ backs, while President Obama prevails on protecting the middle class and small businesses: an edge that may help explain his better-than-dismal job approval in the teeth of a terrible economy.

The new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that by a wide 59-26 percent margin, the public sees congressional Republicans as more concerned than Obama with protecting the economic interests of Wall Street financial institutions. Americans even more broadly, by 67-24 percent, put the GOP ahead when it comes to looking out for the interests of large corporations.

The tables turn -- albeit with much narrower margins -- on other measures. Obama leads the GOP by 18 points in looking out for middle-class Americans, 53-35 percent. He also has a 10-point advantage, 47-37 percent, as being more concerned with the economic interests of “you and your family.” And he leads by 9 points, 48-39 percent, on protecting small businesses.

The president’s advantage on small businesses is particularly notable, given the GOP’s efforts to portray his policies as damaging to small-business job creation. While Republicans are fully aboard, independents, the linchpin of national politics, say by 46-39 percent that Obama cares more than GOP leaders about the economic interests of small businesses, a fairly close call but with a tilt in the president’s direction.

This poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds that Obama also leads among independents by 19 points on aiding the middle class, 52-33 percent, and by 11 points as caring more about the economic interests of and “you and your family.”

APPROVALObama has a 47 percent overall job approval rating, steady since April (excepting a bump in the immediate aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden). While just a point from his career low last fall, that’s better than might be expected, given persistent high unemployment, the broader economy and frustration with the budget debate in Washington.

In summer 1992, for example, the last time economic discontent ran this high, the first President Bush plummeted to 33 percent approval, en route to losing his re-election bid.

The perception that Obama’s looking out for average folks looks to be a key element of his comparative durability. His approval rating exceeds 75 percent among people who think he cares more about protecting their economic interests, as well as those of the middle class and small businesses alike. Views on who’s better for Wall Street and corporate America, by contrast, don’t interact nearly as strongly with the president’s approval rating.

It matters in part because of Obama shortfalls in his base. At 77 percent, his approval rating among Democrats is at a career low in numerical terms: it has been in the 70s just twice previously, 78 and 79 percent last September and December. At 73 percent, his approval from liberals is a point from the low. Across the spectrum, he’s got a mere 9 percent approval from Republicans, down 7 points from last month, and just 21 percent among conservatives, another low.

In the middle, though, 55 percent of moderates and 48 percent of independents -– the latter 6 points better than the low -– approve of the president’s work, enough to keep him steady overall.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone July 14-17, 2011, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec072010

President Obama: Tax Cuts for Wealthy Are Republicans' 'Holy Grail' 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday strongly defended the tax-cut deal he struck with Republicans amid criticism from his own party that he caved in too quickly to GOP demands.

"I've said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it's tempting not to negotiate with the hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy," Obama said at a press conference, referring to Republicans' refusal to extend tax cuts for Americans unless it included all income brackets. "In this case, the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed."

The tax cuts and several other write-offs were extended for two years, setting the stage for another political fight over this issue during the next presidential election. The White House did get some concessions, including an extension of several tax credits and unemployment benefits for another 13 months that's expected to help about nine million Americans.

"I have not been able to budge them and I don't think there's any suggestion -- anybody is this room thinks realistically -- that we can budge them right now and in the meantime there are a whole bunch of people being hurt and the economy would be damaged," a staunch Obama said.

"On the Republican side, this is their holy grail. These tax cuts for the wealthy. This seems to be their central economic doctrine," the president said. "And so unless we had 60 votes in the Senate at any given time, it would be very hard for us to move this forward. I have said that I would've liked to see a vote before the election. I thought this was a strong position for us to take into the election."

The president argued that tax cuts for the lower and middle class are crucial for job growth and boosting the economy in the short term, an assessment with which most economists agree.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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