(Bloomberg News) President Barack Obama may press Congress for tax cuts that would exceed his past proposals as well as some of the offerings from House Republicans to strengthen his hand in talks on measures to boost the U.S. economy, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
With Obama set to lay out his plans in a Sept. 8 address to Congress, the administration is focusing on cuts targeted at middle-income Americans to spur consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
In a speech to a union crowd in Detroit yesterday, Obama said he would challenge Republicans on taxes.
"You say you're the party of tax cuts?" Obama said before the annual Metro Detroit Central Labor Council rally. "Well then, prove you'll fight just as hard for tax cuts for middle- class families as you do for oil companies and the most affluent Americans."
Obama will unveil his new economic agenda as unemployment remains at 9.1 percent more than two years after the recession's official end. The jobless rate and the sluggish recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression will be central issues as Obama runs for re-election next year. Republicans, who control the U.S. House, have signaled resistance to new spending that would add to the federal budget deficit.
Stalled On Jobs
Without new measures to boost hiring, Obama's budget office forecast last week that the unemployment rate would be little changed in 2012, averaging 9 percent.
"With the unemployment rate stuck at such a high level, the economy desperately needs help," said Peter Orszag, former director of Obama's Office of Management Budget.
Whatever plan Obama settles on "will probably have to lean heavily on tax cuts if it's going to have a serious chance of being enacted," Orszag, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc., said in an e-mail. "They should be coupled with credible deficit reduction that is enacted now but doesn't take effect for some time."
Obama also said in Detroit yesterday that spending on infrastructure will be a major component of his plans to create jobs.