Barack Obama says wealthy Americans – including himself – can afford tax hikes to help fund Joe Biden’s ambitious spending plan.
“I think they can afford it,” Obama told Good Morning America on ABC. “We can afford it. I now put myself in this category.
Obama is account have a personal fortune of around $ 70 million. Since leaving the White House in 2017, he released a successful memoir under a $ 65 million book deal and with his wife, Michelle Obama, signed a Netflix deal valued at over $ 100 million . He spoke to ABC to mark the start of construction on his presidential library in Chicago.
Republicans and business groups oppose corporate and personal tax increases in the Biden spending program, which is priced at $ 3.5 billion and aims to improve health care, la child care, the fight against climate change and other Democratic priorities.
“You talk about us stepping up and spending the money to provide tax credits for child care,” Obama said. “Make these permanent to help families who have been in need of help for a long time.”
“You are looking to make our infrastructure more efficient… you talk about rebuilding many buildings, roads, bridges, ports so that they are fortified against climate change. And also, that we start investing in the kinds of energy efficiency that will be needed to tackle climate change.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that the price of the spending plan will drop, via talks between moderates and progressives to also pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Most observers say the failure to pass the Build Back Better Act will be disastrous for Biden and his party ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
The spending plan must go through reconciliation, which allows budget legislation to pass by simple majority, thus undoing the systematic obstruction of 60 votes in the equally divided Senate. Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and White House Biden have little margin for error.
Amid the coverage of such an important political moment, CNN commentator Chris Cilizza noted Biden, a senator since 1973 and twice presidential candidate before winning the White House in 2020, was now in “the most important week of his life.”
Biden was Obama’s vice president, who remains widely popular.
In an intervention perhaps designed to appeal to Democratic loyalties, he told ABC Biden “asked the wealthiest Americans, who have benefited incredibly over the past few decades – and even in the midst of a pandemic, have seen their wealth and their assets increase tremendously – paying a few percentage points more in taxes to make sure we have a fair economy for everyone.
“I think anyone who claims it’s a hardship for billionaires to pay a little more tax for a single mom to receive childcare assistance or so we can make sure our communities are not. not inundated by wildfires and floods and that we’re doing something about climate change for the next generation – you know, that’s an argument that’s not viable.
Nonetheless, it’s an argument Republicans and business groups are prepared to make. In Congress, Republicans oppose attempts to simultaneously fund the government last Friday and raise the debt ceiling, averting a U.S. default.
Democrats highlighted their votes to raise the ceiling under Donald Trump and the Republicans’ contribution to the national debt via the 2017 tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich. On Monday, House Democrats wrote to Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to “avoid a fabricated crisis.”
The Senate later passed a measure to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. The Republicans blocked it.