US President Barack Obama urged Republicans in the House of Representatives Saturday to pass his proposal calling for extending tax cuts for everybody but the richest Americans.
"Now it comes down to this," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "If 218 Members of the House vote the right way, 98% of American families and 97% of small business owners will have the certainty of knowing that their income taxes will not go up next year."
On January 1, a tax cut adopted under former president George W. Bush and extended under Obama is set to expire. But Democrats and Republicans strongly disagree over how to extend it.
While Obama favors higher taxes for the rich, Republicans argue it would undercut the nation's fragile economic recovery.
This past week, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a tax cut extension for American families earning less than $250,000 a year, but Republicans in the House are staunchly opposed to this bill, arguing that all Americans, including the wealthy ones, should benefit from the extension.
The president noted that he fundamentally disagreed with those who believed that the best way to create prosperity in America was to let it trickle down from the top.
"I know they're wrong because we already tried it that way for most of the last decade. It didn't work," Obama said.
"We're still paying for trillions of dollars in tax cuts that benefited the wealthiest Americans more than anyone else; tax cuts that didn't lead to the middle class jobs or higher wages we were promised and that helped take us from record surpluses to record deficits."
The president said the country could not afford more of top-down economics. He said America needed policies that would grow and strengthen the middle class, help create jobs and make education and training more affordable.