Obama draws battle lines over middle-class tax cuts

CBS News has confirmed that President Obama will call on Congress Monday to pass a temporary, one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people who make less than $250,000 a year.

The tax cuts are set to expire on January 1. With Monday's announcement, the president is hoping to show voters a very clear difference between himself and Mitt Romney.

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The White House started to lay the framework for its tax cut argument on Sunday by arguing that President Obama wants to help the middle class, while Romney and the Republican Party are interested primarily in helping the rich.

Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Romney and his GOP allies would, "take the Bush tax cuts - which disproportionately impact millionaires and billionaires - and add to them. Their primary aim is give tax breaks to the very wealthy."

But Republican leaders are trying to paint a very different picture. They support extending all of the tax cuts for middle and upper class families.

"We ought to keep those rates exactly the same for at least a year, something that Governor Romney supports because he believes that that will stimulate the economy and provide certainty out there in the job market," Rep. Tom Price, R.-Ga., told "Fox News Sunday."

In 2001, Congress narrowly passed the Bush tax cuts - effective for only 10 years. When the time came, President Obama and Congress cut a deal to extend the cuts for two more years. That deal runs out at the start of next year. A congressional report says if the tax cuts and a series of automatic budget cuts all take place at once when the calendar flips to 2013, it could send the economy into another recession.

"We have got the fiscal cliff coming at the end of the year," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "What we ought to be doing is extend the current tax rates for another year."

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell discussed Obama's call to extend the tax cuts for the middle-class on "CBS This Morning." Watch his full interview in the video below.

Mr. Obama's announcement will come as the president deals with three months of sluggish job growth - a subject his campaign would like to change - and as he faces mounting pressure from within his own party to change his economic message.

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Commentator Robert Reich, professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, said on MSNBC's "Hardball," "(Obama)'s going to have to say something more than 'We're making progress, it's slow progress. I was dealt a bad hand.' He's got to be a bit bolder."

And that is what the Obama campaign hopes that this announcement will do. The president will take it to the battleground states in the days to come, campaigning on fairness. The tax cut for the middle-class is aimed at drawing a sharp contrast with Romney. The Romney campaign is doing very well raising money. They raised $106 million in June.

For more on this story, watch Plante's full story in the video above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent

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