WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden defended the Obama administration for its willingness to extend tax cuts for top earners, despite earlier promises that he and the president would fight against the Bush-era policy.
"We got to the end, we couldn't get it done, and we had to make a decision," Biden said about President Barack Obama's compromise with Republicans to allow tax cuts across the income scale to continue.
The vice president told NBC's "Meet The Press" in an interview broadcast Sunday that he and Obama still believe tax cuts for the wealthiest are "morally troubling" and that they would fight to avoid renewing the cuts when they expire in 2012.
"The one target for us in two years is no longer extending the upper income tax credit for millionaires and billionaires," Biden said.
Since his campaign for president in 2008, Obama has said income tax rates should rise for single taxpayers with gross incomes over $200,000 and married couples with incomes over $250,000. His first budget, submitted a year ago, included plans for those tax increases.
With the economy still struggling, Biden said the tax-cut extensions will provide certainty to the public and to businesses, and the administration hopes they will spur hiring and growth. A more robust economy, Biden said, would allow the president to make a stronger case for eliminating the cuts for the wealthy.
"We will be able to make the case much more clearly that spending $700 billion over 10 years to extend tax cuts for people whose income averages well over a million dollars does not make sense," Biden said.
Obama's compromise with Republican leaders won him rare bipartisan support, but angered many liberal Democrats. The agreement also offers 13 months of extended benefits to the unemployed and attempts to stimulate the economy with a Social Security payroll tax cut for all workers.