President Obama defends push to raise taxes on rich

 MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - Inviting questions, President
Barack Obama got one he was happy to answer.

President Barack Obama speaks about exports, jobs, and the economy, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - Inviting questions, President
Barack Obama got one he was happy to answer.

"Would you please raise my taxes?" one man asked the president
at a town hall here Monday, hosted by the social networking company
LinkedIn.

The questioner described himself as unemployed by choice after
succeeding at a search-engine startup company that did "quite
well" - he was later identified as former Google executive Doug
Edwards - and said he wants the nation to spend more on education,
infrastructure and job training. That gave Obama a chance to
promote his nearly $450 billion jobs plan that would be paid for by
higher taxes opposed by Republicans but not, evidently, by some of
Silicon Valley's wealthiest.

"I appreciate the fact that you recognize that we're in this
thing together. We're not our own," Obama said. "Those of us who
have been successful, we've always got to remember that."

In a session dominated by economic concerns, the president
plugged his jobs agenda in fielding questions on the employment
picture, education, Medicare and Social Security. The president
spoke midway through a three-state Western swing built largely
around fundraising for himself and other Democrats.

Obama is in a deadlock with congressional Republicans, including
House leaders, over raising taxes as part of a formula for helping
a staggering economy. He has put forward a debt-reduction plan that
would raise $1.5 trillion in new revenue, including about $800
billion over 10 years from repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for
couples making more than $250,000.

Obama also said the financial crisis rippling through Europe is
"scaring the world" and that steps taken by European nations to
stem the eurozone debt problem "haven't been as quick as they need
to be." His reference to the European debt crisis came on the
heels of remarks by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who over
the weekend urged governments to unite with the European Central
Bank to help defuse the "most serious risk now confronting the
world economy."

In the short term, Obama wants Congress to cover the cost of his
jobs plan by, among other changes, limiting the itemized deductions
for charitable contributions and other deductions that can be taken
by individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making
over $250,000.

Obama said he did not want to punish the rich, but rather to
return income tax rates to the level of the 1990s that he said were
fair.

"During that period, the rich got richer," the president said.
"The middle class expanded. People rose out of poverty."

Edwards, former director of consumer marketing and brand
management for Google, encouraged Obama to "stay strong" in his
push for higher taxes on the wealthy.

Obama also made no apologies for Wall Street regulation and
environmental rules and doesn't buy the GOP charge they're costing
jobs.

The event was at the Computer History Museum, near LinkedIn's
Silicon Valley headquarters.

Referring to the countries of Europe, Obama said they have not
fully dealt with banking crises, and now the struggles in Greece
have compounded the problem. "So they are going through a
financial crisis that is scaring the world and they're trying to
take responsible actions, but those actions haven't been quite as
quick as they need to be," he said.

Obama is on the road selling both his jobs plan and his own
re-election.

The town hall was the White House's latest attempt to meld
old-school campaigning with new media capabilities.

It comes midway through a three-day West Coast swing that
includes seven fundraisers. Obama is racing to collect cash ahead
of a Friday quarterly fundraising deadline that will provide a
snapshot of the president's strength against the gelling GOP field.

Obama has been using the events to try out his newly aggressive
tone with supporters who have been disappointed with the
president's compromises with the GOP. The president is mixing
frontal attacks on Republicans with words of encouragement intended to buck up the faithful as the 2012 campaign revs up.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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