DALLAS, Texas — President Barack Obama on Tuesday invoked conservative icon Ronald Reagan to rebut Republican claims his plans to raise taxes on the rich smacked of class warfare.
In a campaign event in Texas, Obama referred to a speech that former president Reagan gave about tax reform in Atlanta in 1985.
“Twenty-six years ago, another president said some of these tax loopholes, and I quote: ‘made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary and that is crazy, it’s time we stopped it.’”
“You know the name of that president? Ronald Reagan,” Obama said.
“Was that class warfare? I know people have short memories, but I don’t remember Republicans accusing Ronald Reagan of being a socialist or engaging in class warfare because he thought everybody should do their fair share.”
“Things have just gotten out of whack.”
“If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher or a bus driver makes me a warrior for the middle class, I will wear that charge with honor.”
Obama frequently says that his tax plans would close loopholes and ensure that millionaires and billionaires and corporate jet owners would pay their fair share in taxes, at rates comparable to lower earners.
But Republicans charge he is using class warfare against people who create jobs and say his language on billionaires and millionaires is misleading because his tax plans hit lower earners in the middle class.
In his plan to cut the deficit announced last month, Obama would allow tax cuts passed by ex-president George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 to expire for individuals earning $200,000 and households earning $250,000 a year.
The move would return the deduction rate to the level it was at the end of the Reagan administration in 1989, the White House says.
It was not the first time that Obama has invoked Reagan, seen as a hero by the Republican candidates running for the right to take on the president in the election in 13 months time.
In July he noted as he pushed for tax hikes to be included in a deal to cut the deficit that Reagan had permitted revenue raising measures to accomplish larger goals.
Last year, Obama said the Senate’s failure to back a new nuclear arms deal with Russia which it eventually endorsed, would undercut US capacity to follow Reagan’s “trust but verify” maxim on Moscow’s arsenal.
And in the 2008 campaign, Obama raised Democratic hackles when he said he wanted a transformative presidency that would change the trajectory of America as Reagan had done.