WASHINGTON -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is arguing once again that all the Bush-era tax cuts, including those on the first $250,000 in annual income, should be allowed to expire at the end of 2012.
Bloomberg said it was folly to argue that the economy was in too fragile a state to absorb such a hike. In a phone interview with The Huffington Post, he also made the case that voters would reward President Barack Obama with a landslide victory in November if he called the Republicans' bluff on the matter.
"What Obama should do is say he’s going to veto any change to the end of the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts for everybody, and I feel very strongly about the everybody because you don’t want to split the country -- that’s not what America is all about," said Bloomberg.
"Obama would win this election going away if he’d stand up and say, 'I’m gonna do this,' and then turn to Republicans and say, 'You know, you didn’t want any more revenues ... I just outfoxed you. Now work with me on cutting expenses, and we’ll actually balance the budget in 10 years, and we’ll do it responsibly.'"
Bloomberg first made the case for a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts in the summer of 2010. But for the past year or so, his position has been that the rates should revert to Clinton-era levels for incomes across the board, and that the savings could be used to offset a cut in business taxes.
"If you look at taxes versus other countries around the world, our business taxes are higher than average," Bloomberg said, "but our personal income taxes are lower."
The comments were the first Bloomberg has made since the Senate passed a bill to keep the Bush-era rates in place only on income below $250,000 and the House passed a bill that would have extended rates for all income brackets. Both bills would only last for one year, in hopes that Congress could pass more comprehensive tax policy reform in the interim. A top Democratic Senate aide said that there are currently "a number of different venues" in which the two chambers could find agreement, but movement wasn't likely to happen until the closing months of the calendar year.
Few share the mayor's sentiment that all the tax cuts should be allowed to expire. While former Obama budget chief Peter Orszag has made a similar argument, the president himself has argued that tax cuts should only expire for those in the top two percent of income brackets. Other Democrats have said the tax cuts should begin for those earning $1 million in income.
As a political matter, Bloomberg argued that Obama would be better off pushing for a full repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts because it would be the easiest type of bill to pass.
"He's just got to sustain the veto of any law that ends the tax cuts. That's the great thing. And then he has really stuck it to the Republicans," Bloomberg said. "If you say, 'Well, we're not going to do that, we're going to fix the tax law' -- let's get serious."
"I still think that it's the right thing to do, and this argument that the economy is too fragile — the economy's fragile because no one's willing to change jobs, take a new job, buy a house, expand the plants, all of those kinds of things," Bloomberg said. "Not because of the small amount of money that would come out of the economy."
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