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Obama: Reagan would have supported Buffett rule

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks, urging Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas.
AP

President Obama said Tuesday that none other than conservative icon former President Ronald Reagan would have supported his plan to raise taxes on Americans who make more than $1 million per year, known as the "Buffett rule."

Mr. Obama quoted Mr. Reagan's 1985 comment calling for an end to tax loopholes for the rich.

"Some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary, and that's crazy. It's time we stopped it," Mr. Obama quoted Mr. Reagan saying.

The president, speaking at a fundraiser in Dallas, noted that Republicans never accused Mr. Reagan of being a "socialist" for wanting a bus driver to pay lower tax rates than a millionaire. He derided Republican claims that his effort to pass the Buffett Rule -- which would establish a minimum tax rate for those making more than $1 million per year in order to ensure they pay as much in taxes as lower-income individuals -- amounted to "class warfare."

"I know a lot of folks have short memories, but I don't remember Republicans accusing Ronald Reagan of being a socialist or engaging in class warfare because he thought everybody should do their fair share. Things have just gotten out of whack," he said.

Mr. Obama again referenced Reagan's comment during remarks at Eastfield College later in the day in which he called on Republicans to pass his $447 billion jobs bill, which he sent to Congress last month. (Video of those comments is above.) He noted in that speech that Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor has vowed not to let the jobs bill come up for a vote.

"Well I'd like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what exactly in this jobs bill does he not believe in," he said. "...Does he not believe in rebuilding America's roads and bridges? Does he not believe in tax breaks for small businesses, or efforts to help our veterans?"

He went on to urge Cantor to "put this jobs bill up for a vote so that the entire country knows exactly where every Member of Congress stands."

"Do your job, Congress!" he added.

Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring responded to the comments by saying that "President Obama needs to understand that his 'my way or the highway' approach simply isn't going to work in the House or the Democratic Senate, especially in light of his abysmal record on jobs."

Some Senate Democrats are expected to oppose Mr. Obama's plan, which means he is unlikely to get the 60 votes necessary to get it through the chamber. In a bit of political gamesmanship, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an immediate vote on the bill Tuesday in an effort to show that the bill does not have the unified support of Mr. Obama's party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid then had to object to bringing up the president's proposal. Reid argued that it was unfair to bring up the legislation without a vote. He offered Republicans the chance to formally move to a debate on the bill; they declined the offer.

Mr. Obama's bill would reduce payroll taxes on both workers and employers, extend long-term unemployment benefits and invest in public works and teachers, police officers and other public servants. It would be paid for through the tax increase on high earners and the closing of some corporate tax loopholes. In conjunction with Tuesday's speech, the White House put out a report arguing that the jobs bill, known as The American Jobs Act, would support nearly 400,000 education jobs.