Obama draws the battle line

Updated

Let me finish tonight with this. Campaigns for president are long. We all know that. But, this one’s going to be longer.

President Obama began his 2012 campaign yesterday in the Rose Garden. He made the issue simple. Do the American people believe that people who make a ton of money should get off with a lower tax rate than people who make just enough to get by?

That’s a fair question, isn’t it? It’s not whether people have a right to get rich in this country. That’s a fact. It’s not whether people who get rich should have to pay more of their income in taxes than other people. The progressive tax system is meant to make sure they do. 

It’s whether some people - those who make most of their money off of money should pay a lesser rate, a smaller share of their income than people who show up nine to five or eight to six or seven to seven or whatever your workday.

That’s the Buffett Rule. That’s the Obama rule. Nobody gets a special deal because they’ve got a deal under the tax code. You make a lot, you pay at least - at minimum - the share of your income that the man or woman busting hump does - the worker bee that comes home still sweating and exhausted.

Is this class warfare? Is this socialism? Is this “whatever” the latest dirty word the right has got on its red-hot branding iron? I don’t think so. Do you? And so the games begin. From here on out the battle line is drawn. Yes, it’s going to be about jobs. Yes, it’s going to end up being about whether Obama can get that unemployment number down. Yes, it’s about the economy. It always is.

But it’s also now going to be about “how” we deal with the economy. How we pay for those jobs we have to create. How we get the debt under control. How we end the American habit of borrowing to pay for the cost of our government and society. 

Obama now has a position. So does the other side. Obama says he will veto any debt deal this November that cuts programs for regular people - Social Security and Medicare - that does not guarantee a tax code that requires the rich to pay at least the same share of their income as regular people. He has forced the other side to make the case against him. My hunch is that will take a very good argument indeed.

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Obama draws the battle line

Updated