Obama adviser says tax cuts will happen

A top adviser to President-elect Barack Obama on Sunday defended plans for a conservative, anti-gay rights preacher to deliver the inaugural invocation while promising that campaign pledges for middle-income taxes cuts will be kept. David Axelrod also assured that Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy will be revoked or allowed to expire.
Axelrod declined to comment on Israel's offensive against the Islamic militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, saying Obama was in contact with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush about the crisis. More than 280 Palestinians have died in the first 24 hours of the air campaign against Gaza rocket squads and Hamas members.
But, he said, "President Bush speaks for the United States until Jan. 20 and we're going to honor that."
With 23 days remaining until Obama takes office in the midst of the deepest economic downturn in decades as the country is still fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama senior adviser Axelrod said the incoming president's invitation to the Rev. Rick Warren was important because it underlined the inclusiveness he wants to institute in his administration.
"The important point here is you have a conservative evangelical pastor coming to take part in the inauguration of a progressive president," Axelrod said of Warren, a prominent preacher who backed a recent ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in his home state of California.
Warren has compared gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy. That stance has sparked outrage among gays and the president-elect's liberal backers.
More importantly for the much wider scope of Americans, however, is the terrible economic situation in the United States and globally.
Obama won the presidential election, in part, through voters' belief that he was better able than Republican John McCain to deal with the economic meltdown. Part of his campaign pledge was a tax cut for middle- and low-income earners while increasing the federal levy on wealthier Americans.
Axelrod assured taxpayers that the tax cut was at the top of Obama's agenda, while he declared higher taxes for more wealthy Americans also was in the cards, although less immediately.
Axelrod said the quick move to cut taxes is "vital."
"People need money in their pockets," he said on NBC television's "Meet the Press." "That'll get our economy going again."
And he reiterated that higher taxes for the wealthy also remained on the agenda. That is planned to happen through revocation of tax cuts for that group passed during the Bush administration or by allowing the measure to expire in 2010.
"Whether it expires or we repeal it a little bit early we'll determine later, but it's going to go. It has to go." Axelrod said.
Obama contends that tactic does not represent a tax increase but rather returns the assessment on the wealthy to the level it was during President Bill Clinton's administration in the 1990s.
"We feel it's important that middle class people get some relief now," Axelrod said.
Those cuts will be part of the new administration's stimulus plan, Axelrod said. "This package will include a portion of that tax cut that will become part of the permanent tax cut that he'll have in his upcoming budget."
The incoming administration is considering tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals that will be delivered by reducing the tax withheld from paychecks. That plan, which would cost about $140 billion over 2009-2010, would put more money in paychecks.
The lump-sum rebates issued earlier this year were used by many people to pay down debt, rather than spending them as the administration had hoped.
Eliminating Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy while adding in new middle-class tax reductions does not mean that Obama is raising taxes, Axelrod argued.
"It'll just restore some balance," said Axelrod, saying the two moves will equal a "net tax cut for the American people."

Updated : 2021-01-28 23:30 GMT+08:00