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Clinton supports temporary extension of Bush tax cuts

• June 5, 2012 5:16 pm

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Former President Bill Clinton said he supports a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts, in a sit-down interview Tuesday with CNBC.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think what it means is they will probably have to put everything off until early next year. That's probably the best thing to do right now. But the Republicans don't want to do that unless he agrees to extend the tax cuts permanently, including for upper-income people. I don't think the president should do that. That's what they are fighting about. I don't have any problem with extending all of it now, including the current spending levels. They are still pretty low–the government spending levels. But I think they look high because there's a recession so the taxes look lower than they really would be if we add 2.5, 3 percent growth and the spending 2.5, 3 percent growth because there are so many people are getting food stamps, unemployment, Medicaid. But the real issue is not whether they should be extended for another few months; the real issue is whether the price will put on that extension is the permanent extension of the tax cuts, which I think is an error.

President Obama favors a rollback of the Bush tax cuts for those who earn $250,000 or more.

This is just the latest in a series of breaks between Obama and his campaign surrogate Clinton.

The former president last week described Mitt Romney's business record as "sterling" and said private equity was good work, the subject of a bombardment of Obama for America attack ads in recent weeks.

UPDATE: Clinton's office released a statement later Tuesday, walking back and clarifying the former president's remarks, according to Politico:

"On extending the Bush tax cuts, as President Clinton has said many times before, he supported extending all of the cuts in 2010 as part of the budget agreement, but does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again. In the interview, he simply said that he doubted that a long-term agreement on spending cuts and revenues would be reached until after the election.

"Second, on the current condition of the economy, he said at the top of the interview that the main goal for those in Washington was ‘to keep the expansion going.' Later, in the interview, he said government spending levels were higher and revenues were lower than they would normally be because there was a recession and we're still living with the aftermath of it. It's obvious since we've had 4.3 million new private sector jobs in the last 27 months that we're not in a recession, even though we'd all like growth to be higher," the statement said.