Obama calls for Bush-era tax cut renewal

Obama says his plan is a "fair" deal that protects workers and small businesses

Americans earning up to $250,000 per year (£160,000) should benefit from the renewal of a Bush-era tax cut, US President Barack Obama has said.

In an address from the White House, Mr Obama argued that tax cuts for higher earners should be allowed to expire at the end of this year.

He called Congress to extend the sub-$250,000 tax cut for one year in a bid to prevent rises for many Americans.

But few expect Republican opponents in Congress to agree to his plan.

The House of Representatives is set this month to vote on the tax cuts, with Republicans pushing for an across-the-board extension.

In a statement before the speech, a spokeswoman for his rival Mitt Romney said the announcement would "mean a tax increase for millions of families, job-creators, and small businesses".

Mr Obama's plan is also somewhat at odds with calls from key Democratic leaders in Congress, who want to extend the cuts for those earning up to $1m.

Start Quote

Let's not hold the vast majority of Americans and our economy hostage”

End Quote Barack Obama US President

'Hostage'

In the speech, Mr Obama called tax cuts for the wealthy a "major driver of our deficit".

He called on Congress to pass the extension for lower earners before elected officials debated the tax rises separately.

"Let's agree to do what we agree on," he said. "Let's not hold the vast majority of Americans and our economy hostage as we debate the merits of another tax hike for the wealthy."

The plan is also part of Mr Obama's larger economic campaign strategy - on Friday he said rival Mitt Romney would "give $5tn of new tax cuts on top of the Bush tax cuts, most of them going to the wealthiest Americans".

Later on Monday, he will talk about the proposal in a series of local TV interviews in several states including battleground states like Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

The president will extend his push for the one-year extension on Tuesday by visiting a family in Iowa that would benefit from the plan.

Keeping the tax-cuts in place for those earning under $250,000 for one year would cost the federal government $150bn, the New York Times reported, citing White House figures.

But that would be offset by an $850bn revenue boost over 10 years if Congress followed Mr Obama's plan and agreed to not extend the cut for those making more than $250,000, the Times reported.

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