POLITICS

Struggling President Obama asks moderator: “You may want to move on to another topic”

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

How much trouble was the president having during the debate? At about the 20 minute mark while discussing taxes and the economy he actually asked moderator Jim Lehrer if they could move along to the next subject.

The incident happened after Romney attempted to respond to some points Obama had earlier made. Lehrer indicated they were overtime for this segment of the debate, but Romney insisted on – and got – response time. When Lehrer then returned to Obama to ask for his response to that, the president’s first reaction was to ask if they could get off this particular subject:

MR. LEHRER: No problem. No, you don’t have — you don’t have a problem, I don’t have a problem, because we’re still on the economy, but we’re going to come back to taxes and we’re going to move on to the deficit and a lot of other things, too.

OK, but go ahead, sir.

MR. ROMNEY: You bet.

Well, President, you’re — Mr. President, you’re absolutely right, which is that with regards to 97 percent of the businesses are not — not taxed at the 35 percent tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses that are in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half — of all of the people who work in small business. Those are the businesses that employ one quarter of all the workers in America. And your plan is take their tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent.

Now, I talked to a guy who has a very small business. He’s in the electronics business in — in St. Louis. He has four employees.

He said he and his son calculated how much they pay in taxes. Federal income tax, federal payroll tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state property tax, gasoline tax — it added up to well over 50 percent of what they earned.

And your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35 percent to 40 percent. The National Federation of Independent Businesses has said that will cost 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to cost jobs. My priority is jobs. And so what I do is I bring down the tax rates, lower deductions and exemptions — the same idea behind Bowles-Simpson, by the way. Get the rates down, lower deductions and exemptions to create more jobs, because there’s nothing better for getting us to a balanced budget than having more people working, earning more money, paying more taxes. That’s by far the most effective and efficient way to get this budget balanced.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, I — you may want to move on to another topic, but I would just say this to the American people. If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for — $7 trillion, just to give you a sense, over 10 years that’s more than our entire defense budget — and you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you.

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