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Obama Pitches $300B in Business Tax Incentives to Boost Economy

September 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: The president accused the Republicans of being fiscally irresponsible, but admitted that his own policies have not worked as quickly as hoped. NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman reports.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have got some business to do today.

KWAME HOLMAN: Just eight weeks from Election Day, the president made his pitch in Cleveland today to help the sputtering U.S. economy

BARACK OBAMA: … investments in education and clean energy, in basic research and technology and infrastructure.

(APPLAUSE)

KWAME HOLMAN: And he also took a stand against extending the Bush era tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners, setting up a pre-election fight with Republicans in Congress. Mr. Obama repeatedly singled out Republican House Leader John Boehner, who spoke in Cleveland two weeks ago about his party’s economic agenda.

BARACK OBAMA: There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner. There were no new ideas. They would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 each to folks who are already millionaires.

KWAME HOLMAN: Sustained unemployment near 10 percent and flagging growth are the main reasons the president’s party is staring down potential major losses in the congressional midterm election. Trying to limit the economic and electoral damage, the president conceded that his recovery plans haven’t worked fast enough, but he also sought to define the stakes he sees on Election Day.

BARACK OBAMA: It’s still fear vs. hope, the past vs. the future. It’s still a choice between sliding backward and moving forward.

KWAME HOLMAN: Mr. Obama has called for more targeted stimulus spending and small business tax cuts, including $50 billion in infrastructure spending to upgrade or rehab roads, railways and runways. Mr. Obama also is proposing a permanent extension of a tax break on research and innovation and a more-than-$100 billion business tax cut that would allow companies to write off all new investments over the next 14 months.

On the Bush era tax cuts, the president made clear he wants those affecting middle- and lower-income Americans to continue.

BARACK OBAMA: We are ready, this week, if they want, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KWAME HOLMAN: On ABC this morning, Republican Leader Boehner said he was open to some of the president’s ideas, but again pushed to keep all of the Bush tax cuts in place.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), House minority leader: You can’t have a strong economy if you’re raising taxes on the very people you expect to invest in our economy and to begin hiring people again.

KWAME HOLMAN: Boehner also called on the president to work with Congress on a budget that would hold to 2008 spending levels.