This story has been updated.
President Obama called on Congress on Monday to raise taxes on the wealthy, while vowing to keep taxes low on the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 per year.
“I’m not proposing anything radical here. I just believe that anybody making over $250,000 a year should go back to the income tax rates we were paying under Bill Clinton,” Obama told a hastily arranged audience of middle class people and workers at the White House.
Tax cuts for the wealthy are a major driver of the national deficit, Obama said, and they’re the tax cuts least likely to promote growth. Growth comes from a strong and growing middle class, he added.
“This isn’t about taxing job creators. This is about helping job creators,” Obama said.
The Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year, and Congress is already grappling with how to avoid an across-the-board tax hike. Obama said he wanted Congress to move on the middle class portion of the package, which he said everyone agreed 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. Such debates, he suggested, should be put off until after the election.
"In many ways, the fate of the tax cut for the wealthiest Americans will be decided by the outcome of the next election. My opponent will fight to keep them in place. I will fight to end them,” Obama said.