WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama detailed his goals for getting the economy back on track Friday, advocating permanent tax breaks for the middle class and urging Congress to pass a small business jobs bill as soon as it returns from its summer break.
“One thing we can do next week is end a month-long standoff on a small business jobs bill,” Obama said at a White House press conference Friday.
Obama painted Republicans as obstructionists, chastising them for blocking legislation that would ease up credit for small businesses and enable them to start hiring.
“It’s messy, and it’s frustrating,” Obama said of the atmosphere in Washington. “I’m as frustrated as anyone by it.”
Obama pushed for permanently extending Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class, or those who make $250,000 or less. He said extending tax breaks to Americans who make $250,000 or more a year — the top 2 percent of income earners — “was probably the worst way to stimulate the economy,” arguing that the wealthy would not pump the money back into the consumer realm. He said the proposal amounted to a $100,000 tax break for every million dollars for the top earners.
Obama shied away from calling the tax breaks and small business bill a stimulus, likely responding to public disappointment over the rate of economic recovery following Obama’s stimulus package last year.
The economy lost 8 million jobs over the past few years, and the nationwide unemployment rate has hovered around 9.6 percent for months.
When asked if these measures did not, in fact, represent a “second stimulus,” Obama laughed at the acknowledgment that he might be avoiding the term and said, “Everything we’ve been trying to do is to stimulate jobs and the economy. Isn’t that what I should be doing?”
But he continued to dance around the word, prompting a Bloomberg reporter to comment, when granted the floor, “I could ask you when a verb becomes a noun, but I’ll ask a real question.”