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Obama: GOP Holding Middle Class Tax Cuts "Hostage"

Barack Obama
President Obama delivers a speech on the economy in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 8, 2010 CBS News/ Josh Gross

In a fiery speech in Ohio today, President Obama strongly stated his opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and criticized Republicans for holding middle class tax cuts "hostage" in order to help the nation's highest earners.

The Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year. Mr. Obama said today that Democrats are ready "this week" to extend them for those making $250,000 or less. He advocates letting the cuts lapse for the 2 or 3 percent of Americans making more than that threshold, whose tax rates will increase either three percent or 4.6 percent.

"Now, I believe we ought to make the tax cuts for the middle class permanent," the president said today. "But the Republican leader of the House doesn't want to stop there. Make no mistake: he and his party believe we should also give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans."

"With all the other budgetary pressures we have -- with all the Republicans' talk about wanting to shrink the deficit -- they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 each to folks who are already millionaires," he added.

The president said people should "keep in mind" that the wealthy are perhaps the only group that saw their income increase under Republican rule and said that they are less likely to spend extra money than the less well off.

"So let me be clear to [House Republican Leader John] Boehner and everyone else: we should not hold middle class tax cuts hostage any longer," he said. "We are ready, this week, if they want, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less. That's 98, 97 percent of Americans."

"Now for any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton," he said. "This isn't to punish folks who are better off - God bless them. It's because we can't afford the $700 billion price tag. And for those who claim that this is bad for growth and bad for small businesses, let me remind you that with those tax rates in place, under President Clinton, this country created 22 million jobs, and raised incomes, and had the largest surplus in history. "

Boehner arguedearlier today that extending the tax cuts for the wealthy will give more confidence to small businesses that are unsure of whether they will be hit with a tax increase.

"I think the president is missing the bigger point here," he said. "You can't have a strong economy if you're raising taxes on the very people you expect to invest in our economy to begin hiring people again."

More coverage:

In Ohio, Obama Challenges GOP on Tax Cuts
Text: President Obama's Speech on the Economy
David Axelrod: End GOP Tax Cuts for Millionaires
No Tax Cut Extension for Wealthiest Americans
Obama to Call for Business Investment Tax Breaks
Boehner Slams Obama Economic Plans
John Boehner Enjoys White House Spotlight

Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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