Tax Hikes Are ‘Not About Punishing Wealth,’ Obama Says

July 22, 2011 - 10:45 AM
Obama makes debt case at town hall Friday

Obama

President Barack Obama greets members of the audience during his Town Hall at the Ritchie Coliseum on the campus of University of Maryland, Friday, July 22, 2011 in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Less than two weeks away from an unprecedented government default, President Barack Obama sought Friday to pressure House Republicans to come around to a deal that he insisted must include new taxes as well as unpalatable spending cuts.

At the same time, even with no clear end in sight to negotiations that have dragged on for weeks, the president asserted that the U.S. has never defaulted on its debt and won't do so now.

"The United States of America doesn't run out without paying the tab. We pay our bills. We meet our obligations," Obama said at a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Asserting that the American people as well as many in Congress are on board with his approach of mixing higher taxes for some with steep spending cuts, the president said, "The only people we have left to convince are some folks in the House of Representatives and we're going to keep working on that."

House conservatives have resisted higher tax revenues and some Democrats have come to fear Obama would give ground and agree to a deal with spending alone. Obama made clear that taxes needed to be in the mix.

"If we only did it with cuts, if we did not get any revenue to help close this gap between how much money's coming in and how much money's going out, then a lot of ordinary people would be hurt and the country as a whole would be hurt and that doesn't make any sense. It's not fair," Obama said.

"This isn't about punishing wealth, it's about asking people who've benefited the most over the last decade to share in the sacrifice," the president said.