President Obama asked Congress Monday to give a one-year extension to Bush-era tax cuts for members of the middle class making under $250,000 per year.
The agenda item is considered a major part of the nation's economic policy since tax cuts are expected to expire early next year when automatic spending cuts and the payroll tax ends. Economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, have warned that a failure to address those developments early on could lead to shocks within the economy.
"Our biggest challenge isn't just to reclaim jobs lost during the recession," President Obama said. "We also are rebuilding an economy where work pays off. What's holding us back from meeting these challenges is not a lack of plans or ideas, it is a stalemate in this town about two very different views about where we should go in this country."
Obama said he does not believe in allowing tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 to be extended for another year. This has been a sticking point between the two parties in the past.
"I believe it is time to let tax cuts for wealthy Americans, like myself, to expire," Obama said. "I might feel different if we were still in surplus, but the money we are spending on the tax cuts for the wealthy is a major contributor to our deficit."
The president said the cuts would focus on small businesses – approximately 97% of which would benefit – and individuals making under $250,000 a year.
As far as the ongoing debate about tax cuts for wealthier Americans, Obama said, "Let's agree to do what we agree on. Pass a bill extending tax cuts for middle-class Americans. As soon as that gets done, we can continue to have a debate about whether it is a good idea to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."