September 7th, 2010
10:03 AM ET
8 years ago

Orszag Breaks With Obama on Bush Tax Cuts

 President Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag, wrote Tuesday that the Bush tax cuts should be extended for two years.

President Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag, wrote Tuesday that the Bush tax cuts should be extended for two years.

(CNN) - Former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag is breaking with President Obama on the controversial election-year issue of whether the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy should be scrapped, declaring in a New York Times op-ed that failing to extend the tax cuts for the rich would "make an already stagnating jobs market worse over the next year or two."

To be sure, the crux of Orszag's argument is not complete music to the ears of Republicans because he's proposing a compromise by which all of the Bush tax cuts are extended for two years but then will be ended altogether, something the GOP does not want to endorse. Orszag: Extend Bush tax cuts for 2 years

But the more sensational part of Orszag's first column for the New York Times is that he is urging the president he worked for just a month ago to sign on to allow the tax cuts for the wealthy to continue in the short-term, borrowing a line of reasoning Republicans are using on the campaign trail.

"Higher taxes now would crimp consumer spending, further depressing the already inadequate demand for what firms are capable of producing at full tilt," Orszag writes in the new occasional column he will write for the New York Times. "And since financial markets don't seem at the moment to view the budget deficit as a problem - take a look at the remarkably low 10-year Treasury bond yield - there is little reason not to extend the tax cuts temporarily."

White House aides were quick to make clear that Orzsag's advice will not change the president's view that the tax cuts for the rich need to expire at the end of the year in the name of fiscal discipline.

"The president has been clear about his support for extending tax cuts for the middle class and about ending the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, which would cost $700 billion over ten years to extend at a time when we are dealing with a fiscal crisis and the independent (Congressional Budget Office) has listed as the least effective form of growing the economy," White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage told CNN.

Filed under: Economy • issues • Peter Orszag • President Obama • Taxes
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. BestProfitBusiness = WAR

    Of course he will say something like that. He works for that secret organization; where they make foreign policy for the united states (created by bankers of course). How about this. We will the bush tax expire and we will see what happens. If the people on the left are wrong then you can tell us "i told you so"

    September 7, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. Bill from GA

    I must have missed the news the day W came down the mountain the THE TAX RATES carved in stone. Most repugs, and a lot of other pols, act like that is how it happened. They act like there was something special about Bush Tax Cuts, when they obviously underfunded the country.

    We all want a great country; good schools, awesome (SUPER AWESOME) military, modern, efficient airports and highways, nanny gov to protect us when it rains or the wind blows; we want it all. But we want someone else to pay for it.

    September 7, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. Dave

    Seems like one needs to not be in this administration to start seeing things for what they are and not understand them just with heavy ideological bias. Welcome to real life Mr. Orszag!

    September 7, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. phoenix86

    It would seem that Orszag's grasp of reality puts him at odds with the Administration. Interesting...

    September 7, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Tony

    He's clearly getting paid by those that will be most affected by the cuts expiring. Taxes will go up an entire 3.6%. Are you telling me that wealthy people are so strapped for money right now that they cannot afford an increase that small? A report came out recently that said the yacht and jewelry businesses catering to the wealthy are making record profits. That said, they CAN afford this small tax increase. In fact, it's not even an increase. It was Bush and the Republicans that set the tax cuts to expire this year so if anyone is to blame it's them.

    September 7, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. katiec

    CNN, who cares what Orszag has to say??
    Stop your constantly reporting negativity, pushing your bias for the right, trying to become another Fox and start doing what you are supposed to do. You, like your beloved republicans have thrown all integrity, honor and responsibility to the wind.
    You are a disgrace.

    September 7, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  7. Obama does not get it

    The White House hires Orzzag as heir budget "expert" and touts him as the guru on all things budget-economy related, but when his advice is contrary to election year politics, the Obama White House aides were quick to make clear that Orzsag's advice will not change the president's view . Translation: Obama still does not get it, and has no clue how to fix it. And it also underscores Obama's willingness to do things harmful to the country so long as they help him and Democrats stay in office.

    September 7, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  8. Debbie from Arizona

    Where are all the jobs these tax cuts to the rich have created? This hasn't worked yet, what makes the Republicans think that extending this will work now? The Republicans talk out of both sides of their mouth, one side says we must reduce the deficit, the other says extend the tax cuts to the wealthy, which will add to the deficit. I am sick to death of the Republicans. Their only aim is to get reelected so they can continue to kiss the behinds of the CEOs, oil companies, and any other rich entity that will contribute to their campaigns.

    September 7, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Dave

    Wow, Orzsag actually starting to make sense. Better check the temperature in Hades.

    September 7, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. Alan

    Why do you think he left the adm. He knows that extending the cuts is the right thing to do.

    I have never worked for a poor man or someone on welfare. For the most part these custs are for the business owners that generate wealth and jobs. These are the folks that are CONTRIBUTING to the economy. Something that Obama in no way can relate to!

    September 7, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. malt

    Obama demonizes the rich (even though he is a 'fat cat' himself).

    Look, earn your own money and stop worrying what others do with their own money. I don't sit at home wondering what Obama, Kerry, Edwards, Boxer, Pelosi, Biden and Reid are doing with their millions–but I do care how they spend my tax dollars.

    September 7, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. Baby Boomer

    Peter Orszag needs to SHUT UP about these tax cuts and let them expire. So does anyone who's not a part of the middle class or working class in the United States at this point.

    During the past 10 years the wealthiest 2% did nothing to help the economy of the country. Instead they watched Corp. giants ship middle income jobs off shore. They watched while regulatory oversight erroded to notthing. All the time getting richer and richer.

    Unfortunately, the top 2 or 3% in this country CAN NOT get or keep our economy going. Average incomes are needed for the US to survive and thrive. When you take away 10% of the incomes of 98% of the people in country, what do you expect will happen? THIS CRAP RIGHT HERE...

    So let the tax cuts expire. They only helped a select few anyway and the fact is, THEY WILL NEVER HELP THE MAJORITY...

    September 7, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. Jake

    Wonderful. Orszag is a little to the right of most Obamanistas. So what. Now that he is gone from the administration it just tilts further to the left.

    Obama is at a dead end. Anything he could do to stimulate the economy (e.g. extend Bush tax cuts, etc.) would be seen as a sellout by his base, thus dampening his appeal to his base. Anything he could do to stimulate the economy would further imperil the democrats election prospects.

    Obama is cornered... expect him to lash out in anger. He is a petulant child. His arrogant condescension just alienates him further from the mainstream. He now only appeals to the angry left. Obama is one and done.

    September 7, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. Bill from GA

    And to further make America great, we have to make better use of our tax dollars. Along with a return to SUSTAINABLE TAX RATES, let's have an across-the-board cut in all government salaries, starting with Congress

    Outlaw automatic pay raises, also.

    No pensions for government workers

    Government workers should be compensated 10% less than private sector; that 10% is made up for in job security and patriotism. If you believe in Capitalism, you pay what it takes to fill a job, nothing more.

    September 7, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. Toughlove

    I just love the whole "tax cuts for the rich" mantra. These people aren't an aristocracy of wealth built on the backs of slaves or indentured servants. They are those among us with the creativity to find a place to thrive and the cojones to risk all they have on order to succeed. They are the ones Who Create Jobs!!!! Why do the Dems want to continue a class warfare??

    September 7, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. My Eyes Have Just Been Opened

    This is the most slanted piece of tripe I've ever witnessed on CNN. Orszag did nothing of the sort as this article states. The only reason he states that tax cuts should be extended for the higher brackets is because he knows that Obama can't get what he wants with just extending the cuts for the middle and lower brackets. Accepting that you need to extend them all to get enough votes does not mean you are promoting tax cut extensions for the weathly. It just means that all are better than none. CNN, please stop trying to stir up controversy when it's not there.

    September 7, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. cam

    There is no way many of us who are professionals in this field will suppot Mr. Orszag's idea. That he was a former aid does not make his argument sound and economically logical. He is not the expert in this field. Giving tax cut to the middle class who will actually spend the money will not only go a long way to stimulate the economy but will also put money on the rich and the government pulse through demand for goods and tax collected by government. You do not stimulate weak economy by giving the rich a tax break. They will not spend it and such approach does not stimulate the demand side. There is no magic wand to address the present economic predicament rather, this present administration is in the right track. What we only need is patience for the pieces to come together.


    September 7, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. JMF

    Why, the rich never spend their own money anyway.

    September 7, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Darth Cheney

    Orszag's proposal is politically unrealistic, for if Obama is not reelected the GOP will keep the rich filthy indefinitely. We need a tax system that is progressive with respect to discretionary income and that returns the top tax bracket closer to what it was during our time of prosperity (the 1940s to 1960s).

    September 7, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    The solution to jobs, does not lie with market expansion, but with bringing manufacturing back to America.

    That is the only way, the jobs problem, can possibly be solved.

    September 7, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. John Hennessy Black

    End the Bush Tax cuts now and forever... (PERIOD!)

    September 7, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Alex

    I do sympathize with those who make $251,000 in a coastal area, because I know that's not really "worry-free" rich. However, I don't buy for a second that mega-millionaires will suddenly stop spending just because their taxes go up 10%. We need to add tax strata for the mega-rich. There's no reason why a person who makes $38,000 pays less than someone who makes $380,000, and yet the latter pays the same as someone who makes $3.8 million.

    September 7, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. Michael

    The rich are doing just fine – they are still rich, aren't they?
    Where do these people get off demanding CONTINUED tax breaks for the wealthy in the middle of such hard times for the rest of us? They already had TEN YEARS of tax breaks. It is finally time for them to pull their weight and stop whining about how hard it is being richer than everybody else.

    September 7, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. jay

    Over 7 million jobs were lost during the Bush tax cuts, I would like to know who did they help.

    September 7, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. Sherry

    This is an insane idea. These tax cuts are one prime reason there is not money for government programs! And we need those programs and more the get people back to work. The trickle up affect does NOT work! It's been proven over and over when the ultra rich have too much of the country's money we have a an economic crisis. Enough is enough!

    September 7, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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