Vice President Joe Biden today stopped at a newly-opened Costco store in Washington, D.C. to try on some watches, eat some free samples and urge Congress to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for middle class people like those who shop at Costco.
"All the people you meet in here today, these are hard workin' folks who don't need to see their taxes go up," Biden told reporters after perusing the warehouse store. A male shopper nearby yelled in reply, "Yes, sir!"
For that reason, Biden said, it's important Congress "acts now, right now" to extend current income tax rates, enacted during the Bush administration, for the 98 percent of Americans making less than $250,000.
The current tax rates expire at the end of the year, helping create the so-called "fiscal cliff" that looms on the horizon. The "fiscal cliff" refers to a series of tax increases and spending cuts slated to go into effect on January 2, which could help send the U.S. into another recession.
Along with the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, the "cliff" includes the expiration of the payroll tax holiday that Mr. Obama instituted. Around $1.2 trillion in cuts to both defense and non-defense programs are also set to kick in on January 2 unless Washington acts.
President Obama is urging Congress to first extend the tax cuts for income under $250,000, so that middle-class consumers can rest assured their taxes won't increase while Washington addresses the rest of its fiscal issues.
Biden said the new Costco store, which hired 260 employees, is part of a "renaissance" of the northeast neighborhood in which it opened in the District of Columbia. For the neighborhood to thrive, consumers need "money in their pocket" to actually shop at the store, he said.
After flashing his Costco card at the discount retail store, which opened to the public today, Biden wandered the aisles, picking up childrens' books, fire logs, a 32-inch Panasonic TV and an apple pie, among other things.
Dressed in jeans, a blazer and a button-down shirt, he shook hands with shoppers, picked up a few free food samples and browsed the watches for sale. While trying on watches, Biden borrowed a cell phone to call his daughter Ashley. He said he was "getting some guidance" on watches.