As Meteor Blades wrote earlier, President Obama is proposing a one-year extension of tax cuts on income under $250,000. He is scheduled to deliver comments at 11:50 AM ET from The White House and we'll be posting live updates throughout his remarks. Stay tuned here and join the conversation in the comments.
8:50 AM PT: Romneyland has already responded, even before Obama's remarks. They say he's proposing to raise taxes on "job creators" because the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would expire. But not only does everybody get the tax cut on income under $250,000, by rejecting Obama's plan, Romney is saying he would rather raise everybody's taxes than accept an extension without the upper-income cuts.
8:51 AM PT: If Mitt Romney thinks it's such a great idea to extend income tax cuts on income over $250,000, why create a hostage crisis and hold the middle-income tax cuts hostage? Why not build his campaign around supporting it and try making the case on its own merits?
8:55 AM PT: Things are running a bit late, but I suspect it won't be nearly as bad a delay as these things can sometimes be, because this appears to be a fairly-well choreographed event. The president will be speaking with people who would benefit from the tax cut extension by his side—people who Mitt Romney and the Republicans would hold hostage. He will also be doing several interviews with local television stations on the topic.
9:05 AM PT: Looks like I may have spoken too soon with respect to things not running late.
9:09 AM PT: And here is President Obama, speaking in The East Room. About twenty taxpayers are standing behind him as he gives his remarks.
9:12 AM PT: President Obama frames the debate as part of building an economy in which everybody has a hot—where if you work hard, you can get ahead. And he says the biggest problem we face is political, and that the tax issue demonstrates that problem. One side—Republicans—believes prosperity is top-down, he says. But the other side—his side—believes it is built from the bottom-up. And that's why he's focused on middle-income tax cuts.
9:13 AM PT: "Top-down economics" hasn't worked, he said. Cutting taxes on the wealthy has helped make them wealthier, but it hasn't created jobs. "I believe it's time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—folks like myself—to expire."
9:14 AM PT: "I might feel differently if we were still in surplus, but we've got these huge deficit ... the money we're spending on these cuts is a huge driver of deficits." These tax cuts aren't driving growth, Obama says. He wants, for the wealthy, to return to "the tax rates under Bill Clinton."
9:16 AM PT: "I'm calling on Congress to extend the tax cuts to the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 for another year." Obama actually doesn't make clear that everyone will benefit from that. The cut is on income below $250K, not just people who make less than that.
9:17 AM PT: This isn't about small business "job creators." Obama says he's cut taxes 18 times on small businesses. And he points to tax cuts he's proposed that Congress hasn't acted on. Obama also says 97 percent of small businesses would benefit from the tax extension.
9:18 AM PT: "We should get this done." Obama says he knows people disagrees with him on this, but "we all agree" on extending the tax cuts on the middle class. "Let's agree to do what we agree on, right? That's what compromise is all about. Let's not hold the vast majority of Americans and our entire economy hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy. We can have that debate, but let's not hold up working on the thing that we already agree on."
9:19 AM PT: "In many ways the fate of" upper income tax cuts "will be decided by the next election." But we shouldn't hold regular Americans hostage. "We should give [regular Americans] that certainty. We should do it now."
9:20 AM PT: "My message to Congress is this. Pass a bill extending the tax cuts for the middle-class. I'll sign it tomorrow. [...] As soon as that gets done we can continue to have a debate whether it's a good idea to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."
9:21 AM PT: "Right now, our top priority has to be giving middle-class families and small businesses the security that they deserve."
9:23 AM PT: And the president has concluded his remarks. Really pitch-perfect framing, here. His entire argument decouples middle-income tax cuts from the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. He is calling the Republican bluff. The question now is whether he can sustain this message and force Republicans to defend themselves while being backed into the corner. To accomplish that, Congressional Democrats really need to make sure they have Obama's back.