Gibbs: President "100% committed" to ending Bush tax cuts for rich

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(CBS News) Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs said the president is "100 percent committed" to allowing some Bush-era tax cuts to expire.

"He is 100 percent committed to it," Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union."

A series of tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 during George W. Bush's presidency, and later extended, are set to expire at the end of this year. In 2010, President Obama agreed to a two-year extension, but his adviser indicated the president would not allow for another extension for couples making more than $250,000.

"We should protect the tax cuts for the middle-class, and we should let tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires expire," Gibbs told host Candy Crowley. "We have tried these different philosophies before; we know what tax breaks and tax cuts for the wealthy and [taking] financial regulations off of Wall Street mean. They mean economic calamity, they mean what we are dealing with now, versus a vision where we add jobs and build out the middle-class.

"Let's make some progress on our spending by doing away with tax cuts for people who quite frankly don't need them . . . and have them pay their fair share."

Setting up a debate likely to take place after the November elections, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the top Republican in the Senate, had a different take: He said on the same program that the Bush-era tax rates should be extended.

"What we ought to be doing is extend the current tax rates for another year with a hard requirement to get through comprehensive tax reform one more time," McConnell said, pointing to a sluggish economy as reason not to raise taxes. 

But Gibbs said now is the right time to allow the tax cuts to expire.

"We ought to do something about this deficit...and the best way to do that is to let the upper-end tax cuts expire, let the wealthy in this country that had been doing fine for years and years and years begin to pay their fair share," he said.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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