Opinion: President Obama tells Virginia students U.S. has ‘got to end tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans’
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President Obama participated in a town hall meeting Tuesday at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va. He spoke on a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to gasoline prices, and taxes. He answered questions from students and teachers who were concerned about education costs and bickering on Capital Hill.
One of the long-standing features of The Ticket is providing transcripts of the President and other White House officials unadulterated from comment.
Below are some snippets of the president’s comments in Virginia today.
Taxes: Now, we just had Tax Day. Nobody wants to pay taxes. Let me tell you, I looked at my tax form and I thought, ‘Hmm’ -- there is a moment there where you look at the figure you’re paying and you say, ‘Wow, I don’t -- let me think about my position on taxing the wealthy here’. I understand that. Nobody volunteers and says, ‘Boy, I’m just wild to pay more taxes’. But it’s a matter of values and what we prioritize. And I certainly don’t think my taxes should be even lower. That’s -- I think America wants a smart government. It wants a lean government. It wants a accountable government. But we don’t want no government.
Tax cuts for the rich:
And we’ve also got to end tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. (Applause.) Let me say, this is not because we want to punish success. I suspect there are a bunch of young people in this gym that are going to end up being wealthy, and that’s good. We want you to. We want you to be able to go out there and start a business and create jobs and put other people to work. That’s the American way. But we are going to have to ask everybody to sacrifice. And if we’re asking community colleges to sacrifice, if we’re asking people who are going to see potentially fewer services in their neighborhoods to make a little sacrifice, then we can ask millionaires and billionaires to make a little sacrifice.
How he differs from Republicans on transportation:
According to the Republican budget that was passed, for example, we would have to eliminate transportation funding by a third. We’d have to cut transporting funding by a third. You remember when that bridge in Minnesota collapsed with all those people on it? And there was a big hue and cry: How can this happen in America? Well, the National Society of Engineers, they’ve looked around and they give us a ‘D’ when it comes to infrastructure. Our roads, our bridges, our sewer systems are all deteriorating.
We don’t even have a serious high-speed rail infrastructure in this country. Our broadband lines are slower than places like South Korea. Well, so what, we cut transportation by another third, and what’s going to happen to America? We’re just going to have potholes everywhere? (Laughter.) We’re just going to have bridges collapsing everywhere? Are we going to continue to have airports that are substandard?
How he differs from Republicans on Medicare:
The House Republicans just passed a proposal, and their main plan to reduce our long-term deficits and debt is to turn Medicare into a voucher program. What would happen would be that right now seniors, when they get -- once they’re on Medicare, you basically are able to get the care that you need and Medicare covers it for you. What would happen under this proposal is you’d get a set amount of money; you could then go out under the private market place and buy insurance, but if the voucher you were getting for $6,000 or $7,000 and the insurance company said it’s going to cost you $12,000, well, you’re going to have to make up that difference.
And so it’s estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, which is an independent, bipartisan sort of referee in Congress that determines these things -- they figure that seniors would end up paying twice as much for their healthcare as they are currently. At least twice as much. And more importantly, it would get worse over time, because healthcare inflation goes up a lot faster than regular inflation. So your healthcare costs keep on going up and up and up; the voucher doesn’t. Each year, more and more costs coming out of pocket.
Now, I think that is the wrong way to go. That would fundamentally change Medicare as we know it -- (applause) -- and I’m not going to sign up for that. Having said that, we are going to have to reform Medicare and our entire healthcare system in order to improve quality for the amount of money that we spend -- because we spend much more money in this country on healthcare than any other industrialized country, and our outcomes aren’t better.
One aspect of his life that’s changed since becoming president:
I’ll admit to you, it’s been a while since I filled up at the tank -- filled up at the pump. (Laughter.) You know, Secret Service doesn’t let me get out -- (laughter) -- and they don’t let me drive anymore.
Note: Andrew Malcolm is on vacation
-- Tony Pierce