Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama again urged Congress to pass his jobs plan, saying most millionaires “are willing to step up” and pay higher taxes to support it.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Obama cited a survey, though not by name, taken in October of Americans with $1 million or more in investments by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner, an investing website. The survey found that 68 percent of those polled said that taxes should be raised on people making a million or more in income.
“In this country, we don’t begrudge anyone wealth or success -- we encourage it. We celebrate it,” Obama said in the address. “But America is better off when everyone has had the chance to get ahead -- not just those at the top of the income scale.”
Obama used the Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner survey to support the Buffett Rule which he proposed in September, as part of his recommendations to trim the nation’s long-term deficit by $3 trillion. The rule, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, would require taxpayers earning more than $1 million a year to pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class households.
Obama rolled out a new campaign slogan Oct. 24 telling voters, “We can’t wait” for Congress to act to help create jobs. Since then, he has issued measures he can take without congressional approval, including altering a program to help homeowners refinance underwater mortgages and steps to help ease the burden of student loans.
“The middle-class families who’ve been struggling for years are tired of waiting. They need help now,” he said. “Where Congress won’t act, I will.”
His $447 billion package of tax cuts and spending, announced last month, was blocked by Republicans in the Senate and the administration is pushing lawmakers to hold votes on individual components of his plan.
“Republicans in Congress aren’t paying attention,” he said, urging Americans to make their “voices heard” and “tell Congress to stop playing politics and start taking action on jobs.”
The president cited the findings of another report -- this one by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released Oct. 25 -- that found that the nation’s richest citizens almost tripled their incomes between 1979 and 2007 as the inequality of the distribution of wealth in the U.S. expanded.
The top 1 percent saw their inflation-adjusted, after-tax earnings grow by 275 percent during that period, according to the report.
Those at the other end of the spectrum, whose earnings put them in the bottom 20 percent of incomes, saw an 18 percent increase. The average increase for all households was 62 percent, the report said.
“There are steps we can take right now to put people back to work and restore some of the security that middle-class Americans have lost over the last few decades,” he said.
Rep. Bobby Schilling of Illinois said the president should call on the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass the 15 jobs bills approved by the Republican-controlled House, in the Republican radio and Internet address.
He referred to the bills as the “forgotten 15,” and said they are “common-sense bills that address those excessive federal regulations that are hurting small business job creation.” Schilling said some of them are backed by Democrats and they deserve a Senate vote.
Schilling, who owns Saint Giuseppe’s Heavenly Pizza in Moline, Illinois, said that as a small business owner he understands that “temporary band-aids won’t do the trick.”
He pointed to a bipartisan agreement to repeal a law that would require the government to withhold 3 percent of pay to contractors until they’ve paid their taxes as evidence that job creation isn’t a partisan issue.
He said he was “disappointed” to hear the president say at a campaign fundraiser this week that Americans have “lost ‘our ambition, our imagination.’”
At an Oct. 25 fundraiser in San Francisco Obama told donors that Americans need to rediscover the ingenuity of the past.
He said, “We’ve lost our ambition, our imagination, and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam and unleashed all the potential in this country.”
Schilling said that he “respectfully” disagrees and that all Americans want is to get “government out of the way so our economy can get back to creating jobs.”
--With assistance from Brian Faler in Washington and Paul Tighe in Sydney. Editors: Paul Tighe, Jim McDonald
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