Former President Barack Obama says wealthy Americans – including himself – can afford tax increases to help fund his former VP’s ambitious $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending plan, which must pass via reconciliation, negating the 60-vote filibuster in the evenly split Senate.
“I think they can afford it,” Obama said during an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America. “We can afford it. I put myself in this category now.”Republicans and business groups oppose corporate and personal tax increases in President Biden’s spending package, which aims to improve healthcare, childcare, the fight against climate change, and other Democratic priorities. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated the price tag of the spending plan will come down, via talks between moderates and progressives also aimed at passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Most observers say failure to pass the Build Back Better Act would be disastrous for Democrats before the midterm elections next year.
Obama to ABC on the reconciliation bill: "Anybody who pretends that it's a hardship for billionaires to pay a little bit more in taxes so that a single mom gets childcare support or so that we're doing something about climate change … that's an argument that is unsustainable."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 28, 2021
Obama essentially sent a message to fellow Democrats via ABC to signal his support for the Biden plan by “asking the wealthiest of Americans, who have benefited incredibly over the last several decades – and even in the midst of a pandemic, saw their wealth and assets rise enormously – to pay a few percentage points more in taxes in order to make sure that we have an economy that’s fair for everybody,” the former President said.
Thanks, Obama. https://t.co/J7hoL7pXCK
— Susan Rice (@AmbRice46) September 28, 2021
President Obama is estimated to have a personal fortune of around $70m. Since leaving the White House in 2017 he has released a bestselling memoir as part of a $65m book deal and with his wife, Michelle Obama, signed a Netflix deal thought to be worth more than $100m. He spoke to ABC to mark the start of construction at his presidential library, in Chicago.
Democrats have pointed to their votes to raise the ceiling under Donald Trump, and to Republicans’ contribution to the national debt via 2017 tax cuts which disproportionately benefited the wealthy. On Monday House Democrats wrote to Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, urging him to “avert a manufactured crisis”. Later, the Senate voted on a measure to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Republicans blocked it.
WATCH: @BarackObama on what the Build Back Better Agenda is all about.
Child care, climate action, and lower costs for working people—paid for by asking big corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share. pic.twitter.com/0VorV5dbed
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) September 28, 2021
“I think anybody who pretends that it’s a hardship for billionaires to pay a little bit more in taxes so that a single mom gets childcare support or so that we can make sure that our communities aren’t inundated by wildfires and floods and that we’re doing something about climate change for the next generation – you know, that’s an argument that is unsustainable,” President Obama said.
Watch President Obama’s full interview, below.