President Obama on
Deficits and Corporate Tax Reform
February 15, 2011
Obama traveled to Parkville Middle School and Center for Technology to
unveil his budget proposal for 2012 and explain some of the tough
choices we have to make so we can afford to invest in our future. During
a news conference today, the President spoke about how the federal
government, like American families, must consider all areas of the
budget in order to live within its means while still investing in the
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Your budget relies on revenue from tax
increases to multinational corporations that ship jobs overseas and on
increases on the oil and gas industry. You’ve been calling on this for
years. And if you couldn’t get it through a Democratic Congress, why do
you think you’ll be able to get it through now? And also doesn’t it
blunt your push for deficit-neutral corporate tax reform?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I continue to believe I’m right. (Laughter.) So
we’re going to try again. I think what’s different is everybody says now
that they're really serious about the deficit. Well, if you’re really
serious about the deficit -- not just spending, but you’re serious about
the deficit overall -- then part of what you have to look at is
unjustifiable spending through the tax code, through tax breaks that do
not make us more competitive, do not create jobs here in the United
States of America.
And the two examples you cite I think most economists would look at and
they’d say these aren’t contributing to our long-term economic growth.
And if they're not, why are we letting some folks pay lower taxes than
other folks who are creating jobs here in the United States and are
investing? Why are we not investing in the energy sources of the future,
just the ones in the past, particularly if the energy sources of the
past are highly profitable right now and don't need a tax break?
I think what may have changed is if we are going to get serious about
deficit reduction and debt reduction, then we’ve got to look at all the
sources of deficit and debt. We can’t be just trying to pick and choose
and getting 100 percent of our way.
The same is true, by the way, for Democrats. I mean, there are some
provisions in this budget that are hard for me to take. You’ve got
cities around the country and states around the country that are having
a tremendously difficult time trying to balance their own budgets
because of fallen revenue. They’ve got greater demands because folks
have lost their jobs; the housing market is still in a tough way in a
lot of these places. And yet part of what this budget says is we’re
going to reduce Community Development Block Grants by 10 percent. That’s
not something I'd like to do. But -- and if it had come up a year ago or
two years ago, I would have said no. Under these new circumstances, I'm
saying yes to that. And so my expectation is, is that everybody is going
to have to make those same sorts of compromises.
Now, with respect to corporate tax reform, the whole concept of
corporate tax reform is to simplify, eliminate loopholes, treat
everybody fairly. That is entirely consistent with saying, for example,
that we shouldn’t provide special treatment to the oil industry when
they’ve been making huge profits and can afford to further invest in
their companies without special tax breaks that are different from what
somebody else gets.