WASHINGTON -- White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe went on CNN, ABC and Fox News on Sunday to explain President Obama's economic policies. He blamed Tea Party lawmakers for blocking progress on jobs, said there aren't going to be any major Cabinet shake-ups before 2012 and defended plans to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
On Fox News Sunday, Plouffe and host Chris Wallace argued over whether the wealthiest Americans already pay too much in taxes. Wallace put up a graphic on the screen with data from the Tax Policy Center showing that the top 1 percent of Americans pay 38 percent of federal income taxes, and the top 10 percent pay 70 percent. Meanwhile, 46 percent of households pay no federal income taxes.
"And the president thinks that the wealthy aren't paying their fair share?" asked Wallace incredulously.
However, they don't tell the whole story.
First of all, the top 400 Americans make more than half of all Americans combined.
Income taxes aren't the only types of taxes people pay. There are also sales, payroll and property taxes, among others.
As David Leonhardt of The New York Times wrote, the "vast majority" of American households do end up paying federal taxes, even if they don't all pay income taxes.
"Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. ... The reason is that poor families generally pay more in payroll taxes than they receive through benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit. It’s not just poor families for whom the payroll tax is a big deal, either. About three-quarters of all American households pay more in payroll taxes, which go toward Medicare and Social Security, than in income taxes."
The White House, in its talking points on Obama's jobs plan, also tried to debunk the notion that the wealthiest pay an unjust share of federal taxes, noting, "And the top 400 richest Americans, all making over $110 million per year and making an average of $271 million per year, paid only 18 percent of their income in income taxes in 2008. In fact, since the mid-1990s, the share of income paid by the wealthiest 400 Americans has fallen by nearly 40 percent, from 29.9 percent in 1995, even as their average incomes roughly quadrupled."
"What the president wants to do, throughout his presidency and what he's calling for next year, is to cut taxes for just about everybody in America, every middle-class person by $1,500, every small business," said Plouffe on ABC's "This Week." "So this is tax cuts for just about everybody in America. But the people at the very top of the spectrum, the largest corporations, the people who benefit from special tax treatment and loopholes, we need to close those so that we are asking everybody to do their fair share so they can get a fair shake."
On "Fox News Sunday," Plouffe also placed blame for much of the impasse in Congress on the House Republican leadership putting the needs of 30 Tea Party Republicans "in front of the needs of Americans."
"That has to stop," said Plouffe. "We'll not make progress unless those 30 or 40 Tea Party members of the Republican House stop being the focal point."
Obama has already announced the Neighborhood Stabilization Program aimed at helping communities to rehabilitate or tear down vacant homes and turn them into affordable housing. In his jobs plan, Obama also announced he wants to broaden a two-year-old refinancing proposal that helps Americans take advantage of low interest rates.
When asked by Candy Crowley, host of CNN's State of the Union, about whether the administration has other plans, Plouffe replied, "We'll look at every other idea out there. Again there is not going to be any silver bullet. It will take a lot of different things to make an impact."
Plouffe also said that he doesn't expect any major Cabinet shake-ups between now and the 2012 election. He said Obama was "confident" in his team.
"I think he's got a good plan, he's got a good team to execute that," added Plouffe.
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