Weekly Address: Buffet Rule

President Obama explains in this week’s address why he thinks that wealthier Americans paying more taxes to help rebuild our country makes sense. The transcript is beneath the frame.

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WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama calls on Congress to pass the Buffett Rule, a principle of fairness that ensures that millionaires and billionaires do not pay less in taxes as a share of their income than middle class families pay.  The President believes our system must ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share, while protecting 98 percent of Americans from seeing their taxes go up at all. That is why the President proposed the Buffett Rule, which will help make our system reflect our values so that all Americans get a fair shot, play by the same rules, and pay their fair share.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
March 31, 2012


Over the last few months, I’ve been talking about a choice we face as a country.  We can either settle for an economy where a few people do really well and everyone else struggles to get by, or we can build an economy where hard work pays off again – where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  That’s up to us.

Today, I want to talk to you about the idea that everyone in this country should do their fair share.

Now, if this were a perfect world, we’d have unlimited resources.  No one would ever have to pay any taxes, and we could spend as much as we wanted.  But we live in the real world.  We don’t have unlimited resources.  We have a deficit that needs to be paid down.  And we also have to pay for investments that will help our economy grow and keep our country safe: education, research and technology, a strong military, and retirement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

That means we have to make choices.  When it comes to paying down the deficit and investing in our future, should we ask middle-class Americans to pay even more at a time when their budgets are already stretched to the breaking point?  Or should we ask some of the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share?

That’s the choice.  Over the last decade, we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars on what was supposed to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.  Now we’re scheduled to spend almost a trillion more. Today, the wealthiest Americans are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years.  Warren Buffett is paying a lower rate than his secretary.  Meanwhile, over the last 30 years, the tax rates for middle class families have barely budged.

That’s not fair.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates – people who don’t need them and never asked for them?  Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure?  Because we can’t afford to do both.

Now, some people call this class warfare.  But I think asking a billionaire to pay at least the same tax rate as his secretary is just common sense.  We don’t envy success in this country.  We aspire to it.  But we also believe that anyone who does well for themselves should do their fair share in return, so that more people have the opportunity to get ahead – not just a few.

That’s the America I believe in.  And in the next few weeks, Members of Congress will get a chance to show you where they stand.  Congress is going to vote on what’s called the Buffett Rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do.  On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year – like 98 percent of American families do – your taxes shouldn’t go up.  You’re the ones struggling with the rising cost of everything from college tuition to groceries.  You’re the ones who deserve a break.

So every Member of Congress is going to go on record.  And if they vote to keep giving tax breaks to people like me – tax breaks our country can’t afford – then they’re going to have to explain to you where that money comes from.  Either it’s going to add to our deficit, or it’s going to come out of your pocket.  Seniors will have to pay more for their Medicare benefits.  Students will see their interest rates go up at a time when they can’t afford it.  Families who are scraping by will have to do more because the richest Americans are doing less.

That’s not right.  That’s not who we are.   In America, our story has never been about what we can do by ourselves – it’s about what we can do together.  It’s about believing in our future and the future of this country.  So tell your Members of Congress to do the right thing.  Call them up, write them a letter, pay them a visit, and tell them to stop giving tax breaks to people who don’t need them and start investing in the things that will help our economy grow and put people back to work.

That’s how we’ll make this country a little fairer, a little more just, and a whole lot stronger.  Thank you.

Weekly Address: Easter Greetings

Here’s the weekly address from President Obama wishing everyone a Happy Easter and Passover. The transcript is below the frame.

WASHINGTON, DC—President Obama used this week’s address to offer his warmest greetings to all who are celebrating Easter and Passover this weekend, and to reflect on the common thread of humanity that binds us together. President Obama wishes all Americans a joyful weekend focused on the wonders of our individual traditions as well as the values that unite us all.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
April 7, 2012

For millions of Americans, this weekend is a time to celebrate redemption at God’s hand.  Tonight, Jews will gather for a second Seder, where they will retell the story of the Exodus.  And tomorrow, my family will join Christians around the world as we thank God for the all-important gift of grace through the resurrection of His son, and experience the wonder of Easter morning.

These holidays have their roots in miracles that took place thousands of years ago.  They connect us to our past and give us strength as we face the future.  And they remind us of the common thread of humanity that connects us all.

For me, and for countless other Christians, Easter weekend is a time to reflect and rejoice.  Yesterday, many of us took a few quiet moments to try and fathom the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for all of us.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate the resurrection of a savior who died so that we might live.

And throughout these sacred days, we recommit ourselves to following His example.  We rededicate our time on Earth to selflessness, and to loving our neighbors.  We remind ourselves that no matter who we are, or how much we achieve, we each stand humbled before an almighty God.

Christ’s triumph over death holds special meaning for Christians.  But all of us, no matter how or whether we believe, can identify with elements of His story.  The triumph of hope over despair.  Of faith over doubt.
The notion that there is something out there that is bigger than ourselves.

These beliefs help unite Americans of all faiths and backgrounds.  They shape our values and guide our work.  They put our lives in perspective.

So to all Christians celebrating the Resurrection with us, Michelle and I want to wish you a blessed and Happy Easter.  And to all Americans, I hope you have a weekend filled with joy and reflection, focused on the things that matter most.  God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.