Former president Bill Clinton told attendees at the Peter G. Peterson Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C., today that President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the rich will not be enough to close the deficit and that middle-class taxes may also have to be raised.
"This is just me now, I’m not speaking for the White House—I think you could tax me at 100 percent and you wouldn’t balance the budget," Clinton said, according to Politico’s account. "We are all going to have to contribute to this, and if middle class people’s wages were going up again, and we had some growth to the economy, I don’t think they would object to going back to tax rates when I was president."
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Clinton’s comments are sure to provoke a response from Republicans who argue that President Obama may increase taxes for all or even propose a value-added tax in a more flexible second term.
President Obama has said he wants to raise taxes only on the incomes, capital gains, and dividends of the wealthy. However, observers such as Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist have pointed out that similar promises by Democrats to limit tax increases have not been kept.
"Bill Clinton’s promise to tax only the top 2 percent lasted about six months before the administration demanded tax increases on every single American in the form of a tax on electricity and a tax on gasoline," Norquist wrote in the Wall Street Journal last month. "Mr. Clinton then replaced those taxes with a gasoline-tax increase of 4.3 cents per gallon. Everyone who drove a car was suddenly, magically rich."
Current tax rates are set to increase automatically and massively at the end of this year.