Thursday, February 11, 2010

President Obama now says he's 'agnostic' on possible taxe hikes for households below $250K a year

Wednesday, February 10th 2010, 9:16 PM

President Barack Obama now says he's 'agnostic' about possibily hiking taxes beyond his campaign pledge.
President Barack Obama now says he's 'agnostic' about possibily hiking taxes beyond his campaign pledge.

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A taxing situation

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WASHINGTON - President Obama says he is now "agnostic" about raising taxes on households making under $250,000 a year to help cut budget deficits, signaling a possible retreat from a campaign pledge.

In an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek on newsstands Friday, Obama said a presidential budget commission needs to look at all options for deficit reduction - including tax increases and cuts in spending on such programs as Social Security and Medicare.

"The whole point of it is to make sure that all ideas are on the table," Obama said. "So what I want to do is to be completely agnostic, in terms of solutions."

Obama repeatedly vowed during the 2008 campaign to spare households earning less than $250,000 a year from tax increases.

When top economic officials last August suggested going back on the pledge, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs quickly reiterated the promise.

Meanwhile, Obama Wednesday won over skeptical African-American leaders who agreed to join his effort to get Congress to pass a jobs bill.

At times, black leaders have criticized Obama for failing to address their community's hardships, but they insisted they put all that aside yesterday.

"I think he feels the gravity of the problem, and not exclusively as an African-American problem but as a problem for all people out of work. We need a jobs bill," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who braved the blizzard here to attend the Oval Office session.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous compared Senate Republicans with the Dixiecrats who 40 years ago blocked civil rights legislation. "If the Senate Republicans want to kind of keep on using tactics ... from the last century that were used against black people in this century, against working people, then we're going to hold them to account," he said.

Sharpton noted unemployment has hit African-Americans harder, but said the meeting was not a gripe session to complain that Obama has forgotten his own.

"He's focused on lifting everybody equally. There's not going to be an African-American jobs bill," Sharpton said.

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