A showdown is brewing in Washington between the president and Republicans--one that clearly outlines a key issue between President Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Monday, Obama called on Congress to uphold the Bush-era tax cuts for Americans making less than $250,000 a year, while allowing the tax cuts to expire for those above that threshold.
"At the beginning of the last decade, Congress passed trillions of dollars in tax cuts that benefited the wealthiest Americans more than anybody else. And we were told that it would lead to more jobs and higher incomes for everybody and that prosperity would start at the top, but then trickle down," Obama said. "And what happened? The wealthy got wealthier, but most Americans struggled."
"We don't need more top-down economics. We've tried that theory. That's why I believe it's time to let tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, folks like myself, to expire," he continued.
"I'm not proposing anything radical here," Obama added. "We all say that we should extend tax cuts for 98 percent of the people...so we should all agree to extend the tax cuts for the middle class."
Obama has long called for the Bush tax cuts to expire on wealthy Americans, saying that spending cuts alone won't bring down the federal deficit. Democrats hold the position that the loss of revenue from upper-class families when Bush lowered their tax rate in 2001, combined with the onset of two wars, played a significant role in the country's current economic woes.
Republicans argue that increasing taxes on the rich will further harm the floundering U.S. economy, and that the economy's issues center around too much spending.
"We ought to keep those rates exactly the same for at least a year, something that Governor Romney supports because he believes that that will stimulate the economy and provide certainty out there in the job market," Rep. Tom Price (R.- Ga.) told "Fox News Sunday."
The Obama campaign has seized on this contrast between the president and his opponent, portraying Romney--one of the wealthiest men to ever run for office--as looking out for the millionaires and billionaires while the president worries about the middle class.
A congressional report seems to support the president's position, at least in the immediate future, saying that if the tax cut extension and a series of automatic budget cuts all take place at once when the calendar flips to 2013, it could send the economy into another recession.
Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would bring upper-class families back to the Clinton-era tax rate.