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Pelosi Urges Obama to Raise Taxes on Wealthy This Year

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today she wants to repeal President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

Updated 5:40 p.m.
By Paul Kane
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is urging the incoming Obama administration to stick to its campaign pledge and immediately increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, a position that President-elect Barack Obama has wavered on since winning election.

Pelosi told reporters today that she "couldn't be more clear" in opposing some Obama advisers' wish to wait for the tax cuts on the highest income earners to expire in two years, as they are set to do under current law. "Put me down as clearly as you possibly can as one who wants to have those tax cuts for the wealthiest in America repealed," she said.

Pelosi said the income tax cuts to the highest earning Americans -- which were decreased from 39.6 to 35 percent as part of the 2001 Bush tax plan -- have been "the biggest contributor to the budget deficit," which now stands at $1.2 trillion for fiscal year 2009. That deficit figure does not include the impact of the pending stimulus measure, which will cost around $800 billion, nor does it include estimates for supplemental spending bills that will come later this year to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the campaign trail, Obama touted an immediate repeal of the Bush tax cuts for top wage earners, while promising tax relief for the bottom 95 percent of Americans. He said he planned to use increased revenues from the repeal of those tax cuts to finance some of his ambitious agenda items, including a near-universal health care plan.

As the economic situation has grown more dire, however, Obama's advisers have hinted in recent weeks that they may wait two years and allow the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, fearful of the impact of raising taxes during a sharp recession. And in an interview with CNBC Wednesday night, Obama himself said he had not yet decided what he would do.

"I'm not prepared to make a hard and fast commitment.... What I've said is that I'm less concerned about whether it happens this year or next year. More concerned with the basic principle that we've got to restore balance and fairness to the tax system," Obama said.

With no public decision made, Pelosi decided to step up the public pressure, suggesting the revenue raised from increased taxes on those making more than $250,000 could be used for a host of programs and deficit reduction.

"The opportunity calls for us in this country to invest in our children and their health and their education, and all of the -- to reduce the deficit, to reduce the deficit if we had those resources," she said.

Pelosi said the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy "have not grown the economy, have not contributed to the our economic security."

"I couldn't be more clear: Put me down as one in favor for repeal as soon as possible," she said.

But Sen. Richard Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, put the chances for repeal at practically nil, especially given Obama's expressed reservations. "The president-elect believes this may not be the moment," Durbin said, referring to the economic crisis. "I agree with her in principal," he added, "but I disagree with her on timing."

Shailagh Murray contributed to this report.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 8, 2009; 5:13 PM ET
Categories:  Economy  
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Ms. Pelosi needs to take a good look at how she destroyed the city she represented. Her liberal thinking has put her city, San Francisco, in the garbage dump. She needs to go back and maby organize a clean up crew to fix what she and her cronies have destroyed. Please, leave the rest of us alone. Taxes is once again going to come from the middle class. The wealthy will not be taxed. They never was and never will. She and Mr. Reid need to reexamine what they are talking about. So far they have been arguing with each other with neither one of them getting a grip on anything. Don't you just love change.

Posted by: SouthernCross2 | January 10, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

As I said earlier, anyone who feels he or she is not taxed enough is free to send a check to the IRS made payable to "United States Treasury". The rest of us are taxed plenty, thank you very much.

Posted by: JakeD | January 10, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

What about her plans to break the "Contract with America"?

Posted by: SAINT---The | January 9, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi has a timing problem and a big mouth. It was she who took 'impeachment off the table' right around the time when it was a fair possibility. Now she picks a fight with the president elect. Only Bush has better instincts for this kind of blunder. Ms. P. is a very rich machine politician, and her leadership has been a grim joke.

Posted by: SisyphusinSoho | January 9, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

One of the things that is wrong with the press in this country is that too many reporters seem to think that quoting a politician's lies accurately meets the requirements for being accurate.

Here is Nancy Pelosi telling the public that a 4% difference in the tax rate affecting about 2% of the taxpayers is, "the biggest contributor to the budget deficit."

Sure it is. And I'm Spiderman. And the WaPo reporter owes his readers an apology for not doing the math -- or at least calling someone else to do the math -- to find out that Pelosi is talking about a difference of $58 billion, an amount that would keep the federal government running for about 10 minutes.

She's spewing BS to the voters, and the WaPo is helping her do it. Who needs trained journalists for this? A machine can do a more accurate job of "reporting" what she said. Voters need to know the truth to make sound decisions. Reporters who merely shovel the politicians' lies for them don't help one bit.

Posted by: rhahn1 | January 9, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

As a middle class owner of a small business, the tax increases Pelosi will impose will put me out of business and my 23 employees out of work. I have had my share of working 100 work weeks just to keep my head above water and provide a good living not only for my family but for my employees as well. For those of us that have never been late on a payment, played by the rules and faithfully obeyed the laws, Pelosi,, continue to ask more and more of us even though we are just trying to do the right things in order to succeed and contribute back to society. When do we get a break?

How do you make over 250k income after all your business expenses and still have to work 100 hours a week? What kind of business are you in? Beyond that, it sounds like the small business tack-ons that Obama has been talking about would benefit you as well.

Posted by: XanderB | January 9, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

My mom makes over 250k a year and was planning on retiring in 2 years. Now that her 401k has turned into a 101k, that is out the window. She said that she would happily pay a bit more in taxes if it meant she could retire in the next 6 years. I'm sure many people are saying that right about now. Here's my thought though. Make a flat tax rate for each increment of income that each and every American has to pay. And I'm not talking about the wealthy, I'm talking everyone. Make it a viable number that will not affect people, and in turn provide things such as health/dental care paid through the government, etc. I don't understand why something like that wouldn't work.

Posted by: XanderB | January 9, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

As a middle class owner of a small business, the tax increases Pelosi will impose will put me out of business and my 23 employees out of work. I have had my share of working 100 work weeks just to keep my head above water and provide a good living not only for my family but for my employees as well. For those of us that have never been late on a payment, played by the rules and faithfully obeyed the laws, Pelosi,, continue to ask more and more of us even though we are just trying to do the right things in order to succeed and contribute back to society. When do we get a break?

I have had enough and will just fold rather than be required to work 150 hour weeks just to retain what I have. I am not the only one that feels this way - let's just see where Pelosi will get her tax money when we just fold.

Posted by: traciek | January 9, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The wealthy have so many loopholes in the tax laws they can drive their Hummer thru it. While us POOR people are the ones that actually create something of value. Just shuffling around paperwork creates NOTHING of material value. the system has been completely fixed to benefit the Wealthy. Go back and read the Preamble to the US Constitution. It says "We the People".

Also the truth of the matter is more people are employed in small business than in large corporations. most small businesses are owned by the lower to middle class citizens - so the arguement that the "rich" create the jobs - or that the poor or middle class don't is republican dribble.

Posted by: mtdon | January 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

One poster mentioned "fair share" with regard to the rich. With approximately 136,000,000 tax filers and a budget of approximately three trillion dollars, a fair share comes to approximately $22,000. I wonder how many of you that want to tax the rich pay your "fair share". Remember that this is only the federal budget and that only people pay taxes.

Posted by: vitaglubet | January 9, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Pelosi is absolutely right. There is no straight-faced argument for protecting the top one percent income bracket from the hardships of a recession, and we clearly don't have the resources to do it. The GOP tax cuts for the rich were dead wrong -- both morally as public policy. The President-elect needs to show the world he has a backbone and is willing to make hard choices now.

Posted by: davidscott1 | January 9, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Barack Obama is such a liar and hypocrite. He is going back on all of his campaign promises. WELL, I TOLD YOU SO FOLKS. Should've voted for Hillary...promises would have been kept. Stupid liberals. Ya just couldn't vote for the qualified woman who really cares and keeps promises. You deserve what is coming to you.

Posted by: ladyesq1 | January 9, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

These posts seem to run in two different formats. First, the poster who asks a question based on the issues or takes a position on removing or allowing those tax cuts to expire.

Then there is the other poster who seems only interested in getting a hot iron comment designed to insult someone for their thoughts.

I know this much about the current financial problems. The issues are a lot more complicated than anyone posting can summarize in a few well chosen sentences.

At some point, and hopefully soon, we can stop using the harsh language of blame and recrimmination and focus on real solutions.

Trading insult for insult will not advance the nation.

Posted by: Thatsnuts | January 9, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

The rich are the real welfare queens anyway. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who do real, productive work, and those who don't.

Posted by: rooster54 | January 9, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

Pres. Bush protected the wealthy republicans allowing them to pocket millions. Although I haven't yet found anything positive about Ms. Pelosi, I wholeheartedly agree on her proposal to go back to taxing the rich. The middle-class is quickly disappearing along with their jobs and their homes and will now be considered America's poor, while the poor will become the destitute. It's clearly time for the protected and elite to fork over their fair share, before we all become one in the soup lines of another Great Depression.

Posted by: poescrow | January 9, 2009 5:24 AM | Report abuse

Dell Computers is ditching Ireland for Poland.

Are those the JOBS you're talking about?

Posted by: JohnQuimby | January 9, 2009 3:51 AM | Report abuse

"Raisng Taxes on those who create jobs..."

Ahhh hah hah hah hah hah hah!


Posted by: JohnQuimby | January 9, 2009 3:45 AM | Report abuse

hey scratchud - i'd rather misspell a name than cling to a failed ideology

republicans never let an insignificant thing like the facts get in the way of their ideology

Posted by: mtdon | January 9, 2009 2:37 AM | Report abuse

There is no quick fix to this issue. For it has taken years to pile up to this point in time that it will probably take longer to undo.
Raising taxes on those to whom create jobs will only make matters worse. What Mr. Obama is suggesting would be defined as being Socialist in nature - That is "spreading the wealth".
This is not a fix and will only bring longer unemployment lines to those that are presently too long all ready.

Posted by: BigGeorgiaDawg | January 9, 2009 1:48 AM | Report abuse

If you thought 2008 was bad, as far as our economy was concerned, know this: Most pundits (and even President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden), agree, in 2009 things are going to get worse before they get better. The Bush recession is a full blown mess.

In 2009, our economic dystopia will become more real with every passing day, a trillion dollar middle class bailout following the inauguration of Barack Obama notwithstanding (those realities).

That's because our economy is like an express locomotive. It's going to take years to undo eight years of George Bush's laissez faire mismanagement (let alone 28 years of Reaganomics), and that's assuming we're successful at attaining that semi-tangible goal.

And, despite the rantings of many Republicans desperately looking for a theme--ANY THEME--to latch onto given their pathetic record on the economy for decades, I'm very much in favor of the proposed stimulus package now being discussed in detail by the incoming Obama administration.

But, if you think that fixing this mess is going to be either quick and/or easy, you're in for a very, very rude awakening.

The reason the BushCo Republicans weren't worried about the money being lent by China and the other East Asian nations was because they expected the specter of American military might to impress the nations of the East enough to dissuade them from trying to collect.

Well, no matter how loudly Bush and his Republican cohorts sing,- "We've got a win," - the reality on the ground is that the U.S. lost. Moreover, they lost to a bunch of rag-heads wearing sandals--a fitting end to people who grew up thinking that people with long hair and sandals were a joke. Oh ya, don't forget the love beads!

Posted by: DrainYou | January 9, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

mtdon...if you want to sound authoritative and infirmed,please spell Eisen..... correctly.(look it up,then you'll remember)

Posted by: scratchud | January 8, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree. Tax the rich. Ms Nancy needs to be strung upside down and beaten with a tennis racket until all taxpayer monies(25 million) steered to the hubby are returned to the people.

Posted by: bug451 | January 8, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi can afford to push for tax increases, Obama can't. There's little question that Obama and his team will push hard against any liberals desiring quick hits on the wealthy.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 8, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Spenser - but if 1/2 of Americans aren't paying taxes then that would mean we are in POVERTY! Besides we do pay taxes...look at all the fees that are tacked onto everything now. Want to fill the tank...45 cents a gal tax...register your car...taxed...7.5% for SS etc... the rich don't pay 7.5% ss tax...

EVEN the ultra-wealthy Warren Buffet said he pays a lower overall tax rate than his secretary. Is that creating a "More Perfect Union" for WE the PEOPLE?

Once again republicans think this tax thing is's only complicated when you try to argue against historical fact by twisting the truth around.

Tax the Rich! Eisenhauer raised the top tax rate to 91% for income over 3.2 million in todays dollars. I'd be happy w/ that. The more the rich have the less the rest of have. It's a zero sum game +/- 2-4% per year as defined by the fed reserve. This year a heck of a lot less.

Posted by: mtdon | January 8, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Those who suggest, like Obama advisors, that this isn't the time to raise taxes, well where the h** is all this money going to come from? To pay (a) the wallstreet scam of we'll start lending if you give us hundreds of billions of tax dollars (b) the 800 billion or 1.2 trillion, no one can guess, stimulus plan, or (3) cut the deficit? Where? This was Obama's promise, not Pelosi. He already flip flopped on a couple of major things, like FISA and Burris. Let's have some faith in his promise of change and his integrity.

Posted by: drgirl | January 8, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Right on finegal. The real wealthy make money as UNearned income, dividends and capital gains and trust funds. Nancy gives them a pass, as they are the donors for the Democrats just like they are for the GOP. So sure, let's tax the professionals whose income is all salary and are just staying above water.

Posted by: merganser | January 8, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

$250k wealthy? Ask all of the families in this area just trying to cover housing, property taxes, tuition, and maybe a vacation or two. Instead of taxing two-income families trying to eek out a decent living, perhaps Pelosi should donate her multiple strands of south sea pearls to the Treasury.

Posted by: fingal | January 8, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

How about we start with increasing the taxes on those who make more than a million, or half a million, like the folks with the 60 million dollar golden parachutes whose companies we had to bail out? $250,000 is a lot of money, but if those families are paying for mortgages and college tuition (they won't get the grants and loans), higher taxes will be a burden.

Posted by: fmjk | January 8, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I never thought I'd live to see the day when the WaPo got scooped by the National Enquirer (John Edwards affair) and the Globe (Obama's birth certificate) tabloids!

Posted by: JakeD | January 8, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, the only answer is to pay everybody $5 an hour and tax the whole thing. Auto workers earn "too much," government employees earn "too much" and have "too many" benefits.

Obama says Social Security is too much. Pelosi doesn't mind if billionaires get bailed out, as long as they pay some tax. Obama said he was for public financing, till he wasn't. And is barely getting by on $4.2 million.

The Senate Millionaires Club has all the right answers.

And Obama got their by moving to a district and redistricting to get more wealthy Limousine Liberals in it.

Therefore, this is Pelosi shilling for Obama after he forgot his campaign promises.

But we already knew that after Barney Frank stated IN OCTOBER that the tax increases would have to wait.

Posted by: wpfree | January 8, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

The speaker is right--Obama promised and now should push for the repeal of the tax cuts for the wealthiest strata. At the same time, those Democrats and Republicans who reject tax cuts for the middle class now, have a point: Just as President Bush's rebates last summer did nothing to fuel the economy, future President Obama will not achieve such a goal with such measures. What we need are expenditures that are sure to create jobs--renew the infrastructure, develop green resources and products, etc.
See on that,

Posted by: bn1123 | January 8, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Here is a better idea for revenue madame speaker. Cut off all trading with banks that won't open their books to our government. Cayman Isle banks have trillions in unreported income from the big players. Money does not disappear and somebody gains and somebody loses. The trillions in lost financial equity went there and probably a good part of Paulson's giveaway to the CDO holders.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 8, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

What, Harry Pelosi needs a new airplane already?

Posted by: georgejones5 | January 8, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi has got to find some way to pay for those huge raises she and her cronies just got.

Some day we'll all be broke, demoralized, unable to purchase anything, living in thatched huts and lucky if we're driving one of those one seater, Pelosi designed cars, but hey .... we'll have the government employees living pretty well and the French will finally like us.

Posted by: playfair109 | January 8, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

How many of those who whine here are making more than $250K per year? Few I doubt as they represent but 5% of taxpayers and far less than those who post here. I believe that they are among those who bought into the big lie that if the Republicans were in perpetual power that the wealth would eventually "trickle down". Unfortunately that has yet to happen since the lie was introduced in the '80s by the Reagan Administration. It's like the "free beer tomorrow" ploy as when tomorrow arrives it becomes today and the promise is pushed out but another day. The wealth goes to the top and stays at the top - a simple, undeniable fact of our economic system.

The majority of people are paying 25% or more on actual EARNINGS and those who gamble on investments (other people's money) contribute nothing to the GDP yet pay but 15% in taxes. It was this very no-holds-barred shell game that brought the economy to its knees by rewarding unbridled greed by those at the top who were untouched while the mom and pop investors took it in the shorts losing everything.

I can garner no sympathy for those who profit on the misery they have brought upon others.

Posted by: bfjackjernigan | January 8, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

The struggle for DEM power has begun. Reid/Pelosi vs Obama.

Posted by: peoplearestupid | January 8, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

This proves how ignorant Pelosi is about economy. I'm not one of her "Rich" but I know enough about $ to know that anything that goes into the Gov will never make it out to the people. She can raise another $800B from the rich, and it won't make a hill of beans difference. The only way to save the economy is to give direct tax benefits to those who create jobs - take that money that would have gone to the do-nothing-incompetent politicians, and use it for salary of a new employee.

Posted by: peoplearestupid | January 8, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Where is the real "I never met a repug proposal I didn't like" Nancy Pelosi and what have you done with her?

Posted by: solsticebelle | January 8, 2009 6:53 PM

that's a good one.


Posted by: sapitos44 | January 8, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Where is the real "I never met a repug proposal I didn't like" Nancy Pelosi and what have you done with her?

Posted by: solsticebelle | January 8, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Someone making $250K is "ultra wealthy?" ROFLMAO!!! What planet are you on - certainly not this one?

Posted by: PghGuy | January 8, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

mtdon's comments about our historical tax rates miss the most important fact - at what income levels those tax rates kicked in. and if you look at the data, you'll see that on an inflation adjusted basis, those tax levels kicked in at around $3m. Further, at that time social security was around 1% and state tax rates were much lower. hence, obama's plan would create a tax bracket of around 60%, the highest in the world, for income levels that are 1/12th of what was done in the past. obama's plan would also create a situation where over 1/2 of the population don't pay income taxes, creating the most progressive tax system in the world.

The historical commentary is hence a completely inaccurate way to describe the tax plan

Posted by: Spencer99 | January 8, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Finally some common sense from Ms Pelosi!!! Hurray!!

In the 1920's The top tax rate fell from 73 percent to 25 percent - guess what happened? Depression!

FDR, Truman and the Republican President Eisenhauer raised taxes and we enjoyed non-bubble growth. Eisenhauer raised the top tax rate up to 91% - and we had the longest sustained growth in the history of our country. Kennedy lowered the top tax rate down to 70% but took out the loopholes.

Reagan lowered taxes and wham there went the middle class.

Bush 2 lowered them down to levels not seen since the great depression and guess what happened? Largest spread between the rich and poor since the great depression and here we go again - Great Depression part2

don't believe the republican dribble about progressive tax rates - the more the ultra-wealthy have the less our country have. The ultra-wealthy want to turn us into a 3rd world nation!

Posted by: mtdon | January 8, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who feels he or she is not taxed enough is free to send a check to the IRS made payable to "United States Treasury". The rest of us are taxed plenty.

Posted by: JakeD | January 8, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

We the People voted for Obama, and our Congressional and Senatorial representatives on the bases of the Policies they said they would enact. Starting Jan 20th is the time to get it done. Repeal Bush policies that are detrimental to the economy and environment, enact a Cap-n-Trade system for polluters, and Invest in Industries that will create the most Jobs and Investment for long term growth and health.

Posted by: liveride | January 8, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I actually agree with Pelosi!

She's right. If we get back to the tax rates under Clinton, as Obama promised, quickly, it will help us greatly.

Love you Obama, but please, please do this immediately!

Posted by: baileywick | January 8, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, Pelosi: what are you smoking!

You have lifted the skirt of the curtain, and I can see party division.

I saw it when, just before the elections, Obama said he was against 'restructuring' the housing mortgages, against giving the foreclosure courts powers to 're-negotiate' the contracts in order to prevent eviction of hundred of thousands of low and poor home 'owners'.

At that time, you people remained quiet to avoid losing votes for him.

Now the glove is off.

Could this mean that you have time to redeem yourself from the political deadly sin of bailout gluttony?

I'm not big at 'hoping'. So, I will call it an interest developing event to keep an eye on.

Posted by: sapitos44 | January 8, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

About time somebody stepped up to the plate. From what I've seen so far the GOP enonomic stimulus is : Tax breaks for big Oil and Coal, Tax breaks for the Rich, let the majority of Poor and Middle class fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without tax relief, No laws to protect the environment (how's that working for Tennessee and it's Coal Ash spill?).

I wish it were different but if history is any judge, that's about it. Oh yeah, they are for the $302~$352 Billion Littoral Ship building program based in Alabama.

They are as resistant to Renewable Energy technology, industries, and Jobs as much at the Catholic church was against science in the middle ages.

Posted by: liveride | January 8, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

No, no! The rich are like the gods themselves! We should worship them, not tax them!

Posted by: news5 | January 8, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I believe that a tax increase for the upper 5% (making over 250,000.00)is warranted. However, to do it in a recession when no one knows how deep and long it will go is reactionary. The upper 5% pay over 60% of all income taxes collected. That money is more likely to be used in spending to prop up the economy than another government program. A question to be asked is, "Does this action do harm to the economy?" It may in that it removes money from the economy. I do not think the government will turn it around as fast as the people being taxed.

Another point is that now is not the time to reduce the deficit, because it is taking money out of the economy to pay off some of the wealthy government bond holders. Who will not pump it back into the economy.

The last President and Congress to raise taxes during a recession was Herbert Hoover. It made the situation worse rather than better, leading to the rise of FDR.

Posted by: skyr2 | January 8, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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