Small business leaders met with President Obama to voice their support for extending low tax rates for the middle class by the end of the current year and raise taxes for wealthier Americans.
The business owners urged the U.S. president “to fight to keep the middle-class tax cuts,” said Lew Prince, co-founder of Vintage Vinyl, an independent music store in St. Louis, Mo.
“What grows jobs in America is consumers spending money, and the average person needs that two or three thousand dollars a year in his pocket to help drive the economy,” Prince told reporters at the White House.
The Republican party votes for extending low tax rates – enacted under the administration of President George W. Bush – for all taxpayers, including households with the income of $250,000 a year.
Raising tax rates on the wealthy Americans would discourage investment and hiring at a time of high unemployment, Republicans predict.
During the Tuesday’s meeting in the White House, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell ripped into the presdient for planning to take his agenda on the road.
“Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he’s back out on the campaign trail,” McConnell said.
“We already know the president is a very good campaigner. What we don’t know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement,” he added.
Rep. Tom Cole has recently encouraged his colleagues to go along with the president’s plan in order to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
In an interview Cole pressed his fellow Republicans in the House to extend the Bush tax rates for incomes below $250,000 immediately.
When the plan is reapproved the Republican party could push for an extension of the cuts for incomes above that level, The Huffington Post explains. Without any congressional action, all of the Bush tax cuts will expire on Jan. 1.
“I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now,” Cole told Politico. “It doesn’t mean I agree with raising the top two. I don’t.”
Senate Democrats, who earlier this year passed a bill which extended the plan for incomes under $250,000, were pleased with the comments.
“We agree with Congressman Cole,” said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Sen. Chuck Schumer. “Speaker Boehner should take up the Senate-passed bill to extend the middle-class tax cuts right away.”
The position is a shift for The Oklahoma Republican, who has served as a Deputy Whip for the party’s House conference and even was a chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Earlier this month Cole published an editorial warning about the potential dangers of increasing taxes on the wealthy.
“Allowing taxes to rise for just the top brackets may seem like an acceptable middle ground by comparison, but this path would be enormously damaging to the economy,” he wrote at the time.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has recently voiced his disappointment with “little progress” on a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and warned that “we only have a couple weeks to get something done.
However, the politician added that he was optimistic lawmakers would avoid plunging off the “cliff,” a convergence of an estimated $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts, Reuters writes.
“I’m extremely hopeful, and I do not believe that the Republicans are going to allow us to go over the cliff,” he said.