President Obama, who famously called for tax increases on the wealthy to "spread the wealth around," denied today that his tax increases on the rich are an attempt to "redistribute wealth."
"So these investments -- in things like education and research and health care -- they haven't been made as some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another," the president said today at Florida Atlantic University. "This is not some socialist dream," Obama added, as he called for tax increases on millionaires today to pay for those investments.
When he advocated the same plan in 2008, though, Obama described this "spread the wealth around" policy. "I’m gonna cut taxes a little bit more for the folks who are most in need and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well – even though they’ve been working hard and I appreciate that – I just want to make sure they’re paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts," he told Samuel Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber), who is now running for Congress.
Today, Obama similarly opposed "giving those tax breaks to folks like me who don't need them."
In 2008, Obama summarized his plan to make the tax code fairer by saying "I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody." Today, he specifically distanced himself from such a characterization of his position and -- as has been his recent habit -- made a point of rejecting the "socialism" label.
In short: Obama was careful to avoid the "spread the wealth" phrase today, but he defended the Buffett Rule by making the "spread the wealth" argument first made in 2008.