Will Obama's views on tax reform 'evolve' too?(Read article summary)
Will Obama's public support of marriage equality spill over to financial matters?
Pete Souza/AP/The White House/File
Robin, thanks for asking me back on Good Morning America to talk about my views on tax reform. After we spoke about gay marriage, I got to thinking about another deeply-held emotional issue that affects every American family.
Wellâ€“ you know, I have to tell you, as Iâ€™ve said, Iâ€™veâ€“ Iâ€™ve been going through an evolution on this issue. Iâ€™ve always been adamant that Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I do believe we ought to have a revenue code that raises enough money to fund the government we want. And we should do it in a way that interferes as little as possible in the market economy. Â
Iâ€™ve stood on the side of tax reform. But I had hesitatedâ€“ in part, because I thought tinkering around the edges would be sufficientâ€“something that would close a few loopholes and raise taxes on the rich. Andâ€“ I was sensitive to the fact thatâ€“ for a lot of people, you know, theâ€“ the phrase tax reform is something that evokes very powerful reactions, brings out the lobbyists, and so forth.
But I have to tell you that over the course of several years, as I talk to friends and family and neighbors. When I think about members of my own staff who pay very high tax rates, who are raising kids together but are thrown into the Alternative Minimum Taxâ€¦. When I think about new businesses that are unable to take advantage of the same tax subsidies that their bigger, more established competitors can and cannot commit themselves to expanding their businessâ€¦.
You know, Malia and Sasha, theyâ€™ve got friends whose parents make the same income and even do the same kind of work, but who pay very different effective tax rates. Â And Iâ€“ you know, there have been times where Michelle and I have been sittinâ€™ around the dinner table. And weâ€™ve been talkinâ€™ andâ€“ about their friends and their parents. And Malia and Sasha wouldâ€“ it wouldnâ€™t dawn on them that somehow their friendsâ€™ parents would be treated differently. It doesnâ€™t make sense to them.
Andâ€“ and franklyâ€“ thatâ€™s the kind of thing that promptsâ€“ a change of perspective. You know, not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treatedâ€“ differently, when it comes toâ€“ the eyes of the law.
At a certain point, Iâ€™ve just concluded thatâ€“ for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm thatâ€“ I think the tax code needs a major reform. Nowâ€“ I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didnâ€™t want to politicize the issue. Thereâ€™s a tendency when I weigh in to think suddenly it becomes political and it becomes polarized.
And what youâ€™re seeing is, I think, Members of CongressÂ working through this issueâ€“ in fits and starts. Different policymakers are arriving at different conclusions, at different times. And I think thatâ€™s a healthy process and a healthy debate. But this is an issue upon which the President must lead, and that is what I will do.
That is why I have asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to develop a detailed, specific tax reform plan in consultation with congressional leaders of both parties, business leaders, and others. I will present this plan to the American people next January and will strongly urge Congress to complete action on the bill by the end of 2013.
Thank you Robin, for letting me get this off my chest. Â