Obama calls on House GOP to approve middle-class tax cut bill

In spite of House Republicans’ vow to reject the legislation, President Obama on Saturday urged GOP lawmakers to approve a bill that would raise taxes for families earning more than $250,000 per year and extend tax cuts for everyone else.

In his weekly address, the president said the measure will “protect middle-class Americans and virtually every small business owner from getting hit with a big tax hike next year” — about $2,200 for the average family. The Democrat-led Senate approved the legislation on Wednesday.

“Now it comes down to this: If 218 Members of the House vote the right way, 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small business owners will have the certainty of knowing that that their income taxes will not go up next year,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s security at a time when folks could use some.”

HouseGOP leaders have said they instead will approve a bill next week that would extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for all wage earners. The tax relief is due to expire on Dec. 31, and Republicans argue that the weak economic recovery is proof that an across-the-board extension of tax cuts is needed.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that economic growth slowed in the second quarter to an increase of only 1.5 percent. The slowdown was driven by a drop in consumer spending.

“Now is not the time to raise taxes on working families or small businesses, especially given the fact that Washington has not been able to control its spending,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said Friday.

The president said the strategy of GOP lawmakers is wrong-headed, and he singled out Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for blame, too.

“Instead of doing what’s right for middle class families and small business owners, Republicans in Congress are holding these tax cuts hostage until we extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,” Mr. Obama said. “You see, Republicans in Congress and their nominee for president believe that the best way to create prosperity in America is to let it trickle down from the top. They’re wrong.”

The president said the U.S. can’t afford to repeat tax policies that failed for most of the last decade.

“What we need are policies that will grow and strengthen the middle class — that will help create jobs, make education and training more affordable, and encourage businesses to start up and stay right here in the United States,” he said.

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