WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke at the White House press room Friday in support of the tax deal the White House struck with Republicans this week.
Appearing with President Barack Obama, who said he brought "the other guy in" on a slow news day, Clinton said the tax compromise would be a "significant net-plus for the country."
"The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans, and to maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs, and to minimize the chances that it will slip back, which is what has happened in other financial collapses," Clinton said. "This agreement will really help America over the long term, because it continues the credits for manufacturing jobs related to energy coming in to America. … In my opinion, this is a good bill. And I hope that my fellow Democrats will support it. I thank the Republican leaders for agreeing to include things that were important to the President."
Noting his position in the upper income tax bracket, Clinton nonetheless expressed support for prioritizing middle-class tax cuts over those for the wealthiest Americans.
"I think the people that benefit most should pay most. That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons; for reasons of fairness in rebuilding the middle class in America. But we have the distribution of authority we have now in the Congress and what we're going to have in January, and I think this is a much, much better agreement than would be reached were we to wait until January. And I think it will have a much more positive impact on the economy," the former president said.
Clinton also offered his support for the renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, supported by most former secretaries of state and former President George H.W. Bush, but opposed by key Republicans.
"The cooperation that we will get from the Russians, and the signal that will be sent to the world on non-proliferation, when all these other things are going on which threaten to increase nuclear proliferation, is very important," he said. "One of the things you know is that when people fool with these weapons, they're expensive to build, expensive to maintain, and expensive to secure the material that goes into making the weapons.
"This is something that is profoundly important. This ought to be way beyond party."