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February 6, 2016

Posts in "Taxes"

February 5, 2016

On Unemployment Rate, Obama Spikes the Football


In this photo made using a teleconverter in-between two crop factors, President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of around 15,000 during a state arrival ceremony for Pope Francis on Sept. 23, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

In this photo made using a teleconverter in-between two crop factors, President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of around 15,000 during a state arrival ceremony for Pope Francis on Sept. 23, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama on Friday took credit for the latest jobs report, saying the 4.9 percent rate shows his stewardship has made the U.S. economy the “strongest and most durable” in the world.

The Labor Department on Friday released data that was a mixed bag for both American workers and the Obama administration. The numbers showed the lowest unemployment rate in eight years and rising wages; they also concluded that 151,000 new jobs were created in January, down from three consecutive months during which nearly 300,000 jobs were created per month.

“After reaching 10 percent in 2009, the unemployment rate has now fallen to 4.9 percent even as more American joined the job market last month,” Obama told reporters during a rare appearance in the White House briefing room. “Americans are working.” Full story

January 19, 2016

Was There Ever an Obama-Ryan Honeymoon?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12: President Barack Obama shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as he arrives to deliver his final State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress in Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan greets Obama as he arrives to deliver his final State of the Union address while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. looks on. It was one of Ryan’s few smiles of the evening. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama repeatedly had to raise his voice to be heard over cheering Democratic lawmakers during his State of the Union address on Jan. 12. But Speaker Paul D. Ryan sat motionless, his face frozen in a polite — but unimpressed — expression.

Obama used part of his likely final address to a joint session of Congress to extol policy whims long pushed by Democrats like pre-kindergarten “for all” children and a government-led effort to “to make college affordable for every American.” He also called it a “basic fact” that the U.S. “has the strongest, most durable economy in the world,” saying the country is “in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.”

Full story

December 16, 2015

On Omnibus, Obama Let Lawmakers Duke It Out


UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 16 - Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., speaks with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., after discussing funding in omnibus legislation for new the possible relocation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Prince George's County, Md., during a news conference on Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, December 16, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

On the Senate side, reporters rushed to Mikulski, shown here on Wednesday with her fellow Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, for updates on the budget and taxes talks. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials stayed in the background as lawmakers hammered out sweeping spending and tax bills, allowing Democratic leaders to duke it out with their Republicans cohorts.

House and Senate leadership aides described the White House’s role as minimal, saying President Barack Obama was never seriously engaged in the high-stakes talks. And some of his top aides were kept in the loop by Democratic leaders, but it was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who did the heavy lifting.

Full story

White House Will Sign Off on Spending Bill


US President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to deliver the State of The Union address on January 20, 2015, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.  Credit: Mandel Ngan / Pool

Obama is giving Congress a rare victory before the close of the legislative year.
(Mandel Ngan / Pool File Photo)

 

President Barack Obama on Wednesday handed Congress a rare victory as the legislative year comes to a frantic close when the White House endorsed a massive, policy-rider filled omnibus bill and legislation that would extend a slew of tax cuts.

Congressional leaders unveiled the package of tax break extenders late Tuesday, followed early Wednesday morning by a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending measure needed to avert a holiday government shutdown that would have left both parties politically damaged.

Full story

August 18, 2015

Rubiocare Would Upend Traditional Health Insurance


Marco Rubio health plan

Rubio throws a football with children during a Family Night event at Dean Park in Ankeny, Iowa, Monday. He’s pitching a new health plan. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio’s proposed health care alternative would dramatically alter the health insurance landscape in America — well beyond repealing Obamacare.

Full story

January 17, 2015

Obama Would End Death Tax Break for Wealthy to Fund Middle Class Tax Breaks, Programs


Obama has a new plan to raise taxes on capital gains for the wealthy as well as on the biggest banks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Obama has a new plan to eliminate a death tax break that benefits wealthy heirs to fund middle class tax breaks and other programs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama’s sweeping new tax proposal, detailed by senior administration officials Saturday, takes aim at the less-well-known death tax break.

The new wrinkle is part of a broader economic plan to be outlined by Obama in his State of the Union address Tuesday. He will propose eliminating a big tax break for wealthy heirs to fund new and expanded middle class tax cuts and other proposals such as his free community college initiative. The biggest banks would also face higher taxes.

The proposal is aimed squarely at income inequality but is likely to have a rough road among Republicans fresh off a triumphant midterm election.

“A key part of what he will be presenting on Tuesday night … is how do we make the system more fair by closing loopholes but then take the revenues from that and use that as ways to invest in the middle class,” a senior administration official said Saturday.

The tax provisions to be presented to Congress by Obama in his State of the Union address Tuesday would raise roughly $320 billion over the next decade.

Of course, Republicans are sure to criticize using tax increases of any sort to pay for new spending. But it remains to be seen whether some of the proposals could be part of negotiations over a larger tax overhaul Republicans insist must be revenue neutral.

About $210 billion in higher taxes would come from capital gains tax changes and $110 billion from a new 7 basis point fee on borrowing by financial institutions with greater than $50 billion worth of assets.

The money would be used to pay for, among other things, the proposal Obama unveiled in Tennessee to provide two years of community college free of charge to qualified students. That plan would cost the government about $60 billion over a decade.

Under the administration’s plan, the top capital gains tax rate would go back up to 28 percent, which is where it was when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, senior administration officials were quick to point out.

Perhaps the more intriguing change, though, is the proposed end of allowing the cost basis for assets to be “stepped-up” when they’re inherited, meaning potential capital gains tax dollars are never collected. Many mega-billionaires, such as Warren Buffett, for example, haven’t paid taxes on the bulk of their wealth because it is tied up in never-realized capital gains that will disappear — from a tax perspective — when they die.

“By letting very wealthy investors make their capital gains disappear at death, stepped-up basis creates strong ‘lock-in’ incentives to hold assets for generations, even when resources could be reinvested more productively elsewhere,” the White House said. “The proposal would sharply reduce these incentives, making it a pro-growth way to raise revenue.”

A senior administration official said the proposals come with exemptions designed to keep it from hitting the middle class with a new higher tax burden, including allowing a $500,000 exemption per couple for the transfer of a personal residence.

The administration says 99 percent of the revenue raised by raising the capital gains tax rate and ending the capital gains tax exclusion at death — what it dubs the “trust fund loophole” — would come from the top 1 percent wealthiest taxpayers. And 80 percent would come from the richest 0.1 percent. The administration says hundreds of billions of dollars in capital gains are sheltered from taxes each year via death.

Obama will also be asking Congress for new or expanded tax credits, including an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credits for people without children and a new $500 credit for families with two income-earners, which the administration estimates would be a benefit to 24 million couples.

And it would triple the child care tax credit to up to $3,000 per child under 5, which the White House said would benefit about 5.1 million families and 6.7 million children.

There’s also going to be a proposal to provide for automatic enrollment in individual retirement accounts and to require employers let many longer-tenured part-time workers buy into company-sponsored retirement plans. In a fact sheet, the White House said it would propose offsetting the retirement changes and accompanying tax credits for employers by curbing tax-preferred retirement plans that accumulate a sum that works out to roughly $3.4 million.

“Tax-preferred retirement plans are intended to help working families save for retirement. But loopholes in the tax system have let some wealthy individuals convert tax-preferred retirement accounts into tax shelters, including 300 extraordinarily wealthy individuals who have accumulated more than $25 million each in IRAs,” the White House said.

A number of the proposals Obama’s expected to outline Tuesday are said to be modeled on efforts with Republican supporters. The administration has cited, among others, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Ways and Means Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin — and yes, even the Heritage Foundation.

While much should be clear by the end of the State of the Union, granular details of the president’s plans are likely to appear where they always do: when the Office of Management and Budget releases the budget request for the next fiscal year on Feb. 2.

As for the State of the Union, it’s clear the new proposals and the willingness to talk about new revenues are tied to what Obama sees as progress on the economy.

“He is very optimistic about America’s future, he’s very optimistic about potential for how well our economy has done and potential for the economy to grow, and that will be reflected in the speech, and then he will have the specifics that he thinks  — the choices that we need to make to make sure that extends to the middle class,” the official said.

Obama and others in his administration have been unusually eager to talk about the domestic policy proposals that he will highlight during Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address, as part of an effort that was made public shortly before the president left Hawaii.

A senior administration official called the advance rollout that’s featured some presidential barnstorming “probably a clearer way for the president to present his vision” but cautioned against the idea that the potential for fewer surprises might mean a significantly shorter presentation to assembled members of the House and Senate.

“It’ll be a healthy speech still in terms of breadth and length,” the official said.

And Obama still plans the more traditional post-State of the Union travel, too. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said late Friday that the president would be traveling to Boise State University and the University of Kansas in the days after the Tuesday evening speech at the Capitol.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

 

Related: 

Obama, GOP Clash Ahead of Speech

Joke, Flatter, Dig In: Handling Post-Shellacking SOTUs

The Updated Staffer Guide for SOTU

A Guide to SOTU Watch Parties

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The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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December 3, 2014

‘Looser’ Obama Riffs on Taxes, Trade, Regulations, Immigration, GOP


From left: Deutsche Bank Chief executive Jacques Brand, President and CEO of Convergys Andrea Ayers, President and CEO of Dell Michael Dell (3L), listen to U.S. President Barack Obama at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable. (Getty Images News)

From left: Deutsche Bank Chief executive Jacques Brand, President and CEO of Convergys Andrea Ayers, President and CEO of Dell Michael Dell, listen to President Barack Obama at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable. (Getty Images News)

President Barack Obama is starting to open up, six years into the job.

“You get a little looser in your last two years in office,” he told CEOs at a meeting with the Business Roundtable.

Indeed, the remark itself would never have been made public under the old White House policy of kicking out the press for the all-important Q&As the president regularly has with business leaders and donors. Full story

November 25, 2014

Obama Would Veto Corporate Tax Cut Bill (Updated)


Obama would veto a $450 billion tax cut bill tax extenders

Obama would veto a $450 billion tax cut bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:37 p.m. | President Barack Obama would veto an emerging $450 billion tax cut deal coming together in the Senate because it doesn’t do enough for the middle class, according to the White House.

“The President would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,” said Jen Friedman, deputy White House press secretary.

The emerging package of tax cuts negotiated by top Democrats and Republicans would extend an array of mostly business tax breaks — some permanently — while some of the president’s priorities would be left on the cutting room floor.

The package includes the research and development break and is expected to revive a slew of other provisions that benefit corporate interests, including NASCAR, film producers and the owners of racehorses.

The so-called “tax extenders” package has been in the works for months, after most of the provisions expired in January. Democrats negotiated to add some of their preferred tax cuts, including a tax subsidy for mass transit and the deductibility of sales taxes, but other provisions, like an enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit, would expire. Full story

November 24, 2014

Obama Wants Middle Class Aid Before Corporate Tax Breaks (Updated)


Democrats repeatedly harped about programs to help the middle class in the run-up to the midterm elections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats repeatedly harped about programs to help the middle class in the run-up to the midterm elections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:10 p.m. | Corporate tax lobbyists hoping for a holiday treat from Congress may get a lump of coal from President Barack Obama.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday the president would “strongly oppose” a package of corporate tax cut extenders without doing something for the middle class.

“I can tell you that the reports are not promising,” Earnest said. “The reports suggest that there may be some in Congress who want to provide tax relief to businesses and to corporate insiders but not ensuring that … those benefits are shared by middle-class families.

“So certainly the administration would not be supportive of a package that provided relief to corporations without providing relief to middle-class families.

Full story

May 13, 2014

White House Stops Short of Veto Threat on Tax Extenders Bill (Video)


Obama wants the Senate's tax extenders bill amended so it doesn't add to the deficit, but hasn't threatened to veto it. He also hasn't demanded an unemployment extension

Obama wants the Senate’s tax extenders bill to be amended so that it doesn’t add to the deficit, but hasn’t threatened to veto it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House wants the Senate’s $85 billion tax extenders bill amended so that it does not add to the deficit, but stopped short of issuing a veto threat Tuesday.

“The Administration supports the extension of many of the tax provisions in the Senate bill, such as those that support America’s small businesses, help unemployed veterans find jobs, and promote clean energy production and research and development,” said Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for the White House. “The President in his budget has put forward a way to pay for these tax provisions so they don’t add to the deficit and hopes that as legislation moves forward, Congress will offset their cost by closing tax loopholes.”

Whithorne’s statement, however, does not include a threat to veto the bill — either over the deficit or the lack of an unemployment extension — another priority for the White House.

Full story

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