In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said the United States needs to pay down its debt but also needs to "pay for investments that will help our economy grow and keep our country safe: education, research and technology, a strong military, and retirement programs like Medicare and Social Security."
The Buffett Rule -- named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett -- would require those who earn $1 million or more annually to pay the same income tax rate as middle class families. The president called that a simple matter of everyone doing "their fair share."
"Now, if this were a perfect world, we'd have unlimited resources," Obama said. "No one would ever have to pay any taxes, and we could spend as much as we wanted. But we live in the real world. We don't have unlimited resources.
"That means we have to make choices," the president said. "When it comes to paying down the deficit and investing in our future, should we ask middle-class Americans to pay even more at a time when their budgets are already stretched to the breaking point? Or should we ask some of the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share?"
He said the wealthiest Americans have received hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks during the past decade and are enjoying one of the lowest tax rates in 50 years, while tax rates for middle class families "have barely budged" during the past 30 years.
"That's not fair," Obama said. "It doesn't make any sense. Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates – people who don't need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? Because we can't afford to do both."
Rejecting the notion that the Buffett Rule constitutes class warfare, the president urged Americans to pressure Congress to adopt the provision when it comes up for a vote in the coming weeks.
"Call them up, write them a letter, pay them a visit, and tell them to stop giving tax breaks to people who don't need them and start investing in the things that will help our economy grow and put people back to work," he said. "That's how we'll make this country a little fairer, a little more just, and a whole lot stronger."
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