Obama, Congress at odds over tax plan

WASHINGTON – President Obama says it’s all about middle-class economics. He’s asking members of Congress to embrace his middle class economics plan, saying it’s all about making the economy work for everyone.

“Even though we have a system, a free market system, designed to incentivize us all to work hard, we admire success. What we also want to make sure of is that everybody has opportunity,” Obama said during an exclusive interview at the White House.

He says he wants to extend benefits for middle class and working families with substantial tax cuts for middle-income parents with children in daycare or in college. The president also says he wants a tax system that’s fair.

“That we make sure somebody in middle class isn’t paying a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett, which unfortunately, currently, is too often the case and that’s not re-distribution,” he said. “If there is any re-distribution taking place right now it’s in the opposite direction.

And in that opposite direction just down the road from the White House, Republicans in Congress are speaking out.

“If I only did things that the president wanted me to do, I wouldn’t take this job,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota.

Cramer is one of the lawmakers supporting the repeal of the estate tax. The current estate tax applies to estate transfers in excess of $5.4 million for individuals and $10.9 million for couples. Those estates can be subject to a 40% tax rate. Cramer says the tax business punishes success, calling it bad for the community, bad for the economy, and immoral.

“American farms and ranches, North Dakota farms and ranches are typical of a lot of family small businesses but they may be a little a-typical in the sense that they are very high valued but very illiquid and that’s the exact scenario that is punished by the death tax,” he said.

The repeal of the estate tax won’t pass the president’s desk. So while it’s clear that most Democrats and Republicans look at tax policy differently, there are still some areas of common ground.

“We know for example that the president wants to lower corporate tax rate, make us more competitive in the global marketplace,” Cramer said. “The US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world by far.”

On that optimistic note, lawmakers on Capitol Hill say they’re holding out hope. They believe some sort comprehensive tax reform will happen by the end of the year.

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