Obama to go after Bush-era tax cuts. Progressive USA.

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PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Indeed to those in my own party. I say that if we truly believe in a progressive nation of our society, we have an obligation to prove that we can afford our commitments.


UYGUR: Now, as we‘ve been telling you all day. Barack Obama made a passionate case for progressive ideals and a speech on the deficit reduction today. At the heart of his case, an argument about fairness in our society, especially when it comes to taxes.


OBAMA: In the last decade. The average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top one percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. That‘s who needs to pay less taxes?


UYGUR: Do you see why, I like the speech? That‘s a great point. Please, please follow through on that. Obama made it clear he‘s going to go after those Bush year tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, but even before Obama spoke, republican leaders today put their forward, their vision of America. It‘s a vision that rejects progressive values, including the idea of raising taxes on millionaires.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, HOUSE SPEAKER: If we‘re going to resolve our differences and do something meaningful, raising taxes will not be part of that.

REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: We don‘t believe that raising taxes is the answer here. I think the American people understand we have a serious problem in this country.


UYGUR: So, the battle lines are clear. Republicans don‘t even want to consider taxing the rich, but now check out who does like Obama‘s progressive issue. The majority of Americans. A new “USA Today”/Gallup poll finds that 59 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on those main over $250, 000. That is exactly President Obama‘s proposal. Seventy eight percent of Democrats, and 60 percent of independents are on board with that. That‘s a big number. Even 37 percent of Republicans agree, which is also a little surprising, right? That‘s a big number for Republicans.

Now, according to a recent NBC/”Wall Street Journal poll,” when it comes to raising taxes on those who are making over a million dollars, it‘s even clear for Americans then. Eighty one percent find the plan acceptable. But it‘s not just taxes. Americans are progressive on a whole slew of fundamental issues. Now, let‘s take Medicare. According to that Gallup poll, 61 percent of Americans would defend it, saying that accept only minor changes. And a reason NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll found 77 percent of Americans have cut the Social Security in the name of balancing the budget would be unacceptable. Seventy six percent say the same way about cuts the Medicare, and sixty seven percent wants to reject cuts the Medicaid.

So, when you actually look at the numbers, what the American people really want is clear, a progressive nation. But are we going to get one? Certainly in Washington, that‘s the question we‘re going to talk about tonight.

With me now is Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America, and Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Before Obama‘s speech, his group had circulated a petition warning the president not to touch Medicare or Medicaid or risk losing progressive support. Now, having said that, Adam, let me start with you. What do you think here after watching the speech? Which, using—Medicare and Medicaid, are you guys going to withdraw support or not?


first of all, the president rightly deserves credit for really well articulating the case for raising taxes on millionaires, and those making over $250,000, you know, all the praise in the world. The problem will be on issues like Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, when the president has been consistently ambiguous about whether he will draw a line in the sand against benefit cuts. You know, what he said was that the Paul Ryan plan to privatize Medicare is off the table. He‘s alluded to finding some generic savings that wouldn‘t entail benefit cuts like, you know, if they could save taxpayers money by not paying as much money to the insurance companies, add more power to them. But he‘s consistently been ambiguous about whether he would actually draw to a line in the sand and say, absolutely no way to benefit cuts.

And I think, as he said before, you know, when literally trillions of dollars have gone to the wealthiest Americans after Wall Street has looted this country, it would be unconscionable to cut benefits for our grandparents, kids who need to see doctors and those with disabilities. So, we hope that he draws line in the sand very soon.

UYGUR: All right. Jim, let me ask you a tough question. Because, look, one of the things that I do on this show is I try to show people real facts, numbers, and sometimes it‘s polling, sometimes it‘s things that have happened in the past, and you know, there‘s this conventional wisdom in D.C. that the country center right, nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. It‘s not my opinion, it‘s the facts, right? But yet, in Washington, we seem to lose the argument. So, that‘s my question to you. Why, if we‘re right and the country‘s progressive, why do we seem to keep losing in Washington?

JIM DEAN, CHAIR OF DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA: Well, I‘m not sure that I had the total answer to that Cenk. Look, we‘re thrilled that the president is engaging and leading an adult discussion about solving a budget crisis. By getting additional—by raising taxes and those that have been the beneficiaries of the taxpayers as well as its economy. We‘re thrilled that he‘s taking to Paul Ryan‘s plan off the table. But, you know, Washington is bubble as he have alluded to, and I think a lot of people feel that the statesmanship is somehow between the rest of America and a small minority of people who believe in using the budget for their own ideological means. And that‘s something that we‘ve got to work on a little bit. You know, I think a lot of folks in Washington should spend a little bit more time in their own districts and a little bit less time in D.C. And they would find that out very quickly and they would agree with your point very quickly.

UYGUR: Right. And I don‘t want people to get the wrong impression. But when it comes to politics, look, in 2006, the Democrats won overwhelmingly, in 2008 they won overwhelmingly, and there was a mandate to be more progressive, but when it comes to policy, oftentimes it looks like we‘re on the short end of it. And part of the reason for that I think is the republican attack. So, let me give you an example of that today guys, and we‘ll have you respond. Of course, they immediately said that it was class warfare, the idea of taxing anybody, a nickel more. Let me show you the tape on that.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is the tired old way of waging class warfare, pitting one piece of our society against the other.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Going to everyone for the nation‘s fiscal woes but himself, attacking the path to prosperity budget and setting a new standard for class warfare rhetoric.


UYGUR: So, Adam, how do you fight back against that? How do you respond?

GREEN: Well, there is class warfare, there is republican class warfare against middle-class working families. And what the poll numbers that you showed before should indicate to the president that he has the ammunition to end this war. He has the public on his side. And what we need is a bold fighter saying, absolutely no to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, benefit cuts, absolutely yes to increase in taxes on the wealthy, holding corporations accountable, and I‘m cutting military. That would be a winning argument policy wise and politically. And we hope he does it.

UYGUR: All right. Jim, let me ask that question, then. Do you think he did, I mean, for example, one of the things that pointed out here, and we had Representative Schakowsky on before, she points that out all the time. Top one percent of the country have 34 percent of the wealth. The bottom 90 percent of the country only have 29 percent of the wealth, that‘s startling, right? But yet, anytime you say, hey, can we get the taxes to be fair for the top one percent? They scream, oh my God, class warfare, class warfare. So, now, the president did not go as far as Representative Schakowsky‘s plan to talk tax millionaires and billionaires, didn‘t go as far as Bernie Sanders plan. Is that a strategic mistake that if you go towards the Republicans, and then you start the negotiations and you want to go further, that he should have put his marker further left, or, what do you think about that?

DEAN: Well, I‘m less concern about whether put his marker now, as what‘s going to happen when they start these negotiations. And, as you know, in the past, you know, given some of the past negotiations, there‘s reason for concern there. And I really believe that the president really needs to stand up, he specially needs to stand up on preserving programs for the middle class, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, I think if he does that, he‘s going to get a tremendous backing not only from own caucus but from the American people. He needs to take this fight to the people, Cenk, and not play this Washington game of trying to split the difference again with a bunch of ideologues who have not been serious about passing the balanced budget in the past and again, are using the whole budget debate for their own social ideology.

UYGUR: All right. Jim Dean of democracy for America and Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, thank you for representing your side today. We appreciate it.

DEAN: Yes. Thanks for having us on.

UYGUR: Yes. And Adam also had a nice tie. All right.

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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