McConnell: Don't raise taxes on the wealthy
By Walter Alarkon
Posted: 02/22/09 02:03 PM [ET]
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned President Obama on Sunday not to include tax increases on the wealthy in his upcoming budget plan, saying that doing so wouldn't be a "smart move" during a recession.

McConnell said that tax hikes on the wealthy, which Obama is expected to propose in his first budget, would hit small businesses.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

"So we have got to ask ourselves whether increasing capital gains taxes, dividend taxes and taxes on small businesses is a great thing to do in the middle of a deep recession," McConnell said on CNN on Sunday. "I think most of my members will think that that's not a smart move."

Obama will look to cut the growing annual deficit, pegged at more than $1 trillion, by more than half over the next four years, according to The Washington Post. Obama plans to achieve the deficit reduction by allowing the expiration of the Bush administration's tax cuts on the wealthy and by cutting war spending.

Other conservatives joined McConnell in cautioning Obama not to increase taxes during tough economic times.

"I don't think there's an economist in the United States that thinks when you're trying to get out of a recession and to create jobs, you ought to raise taxes," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), also on CNN.

But Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), an Obama ally, defended the president by saying that he was making the tough choices during a difficult economy.

"Look, I think that what the people want is candor," said Patrick, who has called for a gas tax increase in his state.

"They want us to be honest about what the cost of the services that they say they want actually is," Patrick added.

Obama plans to release an outline of his budget proposal on Thursday, but he's expected to talk about the budget during a White House fiscal summit on Monday.

McConnell said that the summit was timely because of the government's "incredible spending spree" during the Obama administration, which oversaw the passage of a $787 billion stimulus package last week.

"We've spent in this new administration, 32 days, $36 billion a day. If you add all that up, that's as much as the previous administration spent over seven years on both the war on terror and the recovery from Katrina," McConnell said.

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