Obama Will Stick to Middle-Class Tax Cut

A middle-class tax cut will be one of President-elect Obama’s first proposals after he takes the oath of office, incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Sunday.

In the first interview by the first appointee to the new administration, Emanuel told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that Obama’s economic plan “at this juncture is based on giving 95 percent of working Americans a tax cut.”

“Over the years, the middle class has been squeezed consistently by rising costs on education, health care and energy, as well as a diminishing income,” Emanuel said. “You must have an economic program that focuses on them. … It was built on the fact that the middle had been hurt. And to have a strong recovery, and a sustained recovery over a period of time means that the middle class must the focus of the economic strategy.”

Emanuel’s chief message for the day: “We have a huge economic crisis here at home that is looming large. That is going to be the focus of his policies. … The business of what we have to do when we get sworn in is focusing on what the American people care about. Priority 1 is the economy.”

During the campaign, Obama promised a $1,000 “Making Work Pay” tax credit.

“Middle class families will see their taxes cut – and no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase,” the campaign said. “For 95 percent of workers and their families—150 million workers overall—the ‘Making Work Pay’ credit will provide a refundable tax cut of $500 for workers or $1,000 for working couple.”

Since then, the deficit has ballooned. It was $455 billion for the budget year ending Sept. 30, and could double this year because of the costs of financial bailouts and slower revenues because of the lousy economy.

Emanuel did not directly answer a question about whether Obama would postpone plans to let Bush tax breaks expire, which would mean a tax increase for the highest earners.

In a story sure to get heavy plan on conservative talk radio, the cover of the New York Daily News says, “YES, I WILL TAX RICH: Obama tells doubters he’ll let W’s tax break for wealthy run out.”

The story by Kenneth R. Bazinet reports: “For the rich, the party is over - as promised. Despite speculation to the contrary, President-elect Barack Obama will act on his campaign promise and roll back the Bush administration's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, an Obama senior adviser told The Daily News. The Obama camp rejected the overnight analysis by some pundits who speculated the language at his first news conference Friday suggested the President-elect was backing away from his tax plans. ‘No change to the tax plan - at all,’ the aide said.”

CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo had said that during his well-reviewed debut news conference in Chicago on Friday, Obama “gave himself some wiggle room on those tax increases he's been talking about.”

Obama told reporters: “I think that the plan that we've put forward is the right one, but, obviously, over the next several weeks and months, we're going to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what's taking place in the economy as a whole. But, understand, the goal of my plan is to provide tax relief to families that are struggling, but also to boost the capacity of the economy to grow from the bottom up.”

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