(CNN) - Top White House aide David Axelrod laid out the argument President Obama is set to make later Wednesday against extending tax cuts to the country's wealthiest income earners.
"As for the upper income tax cuts, what we're talking about is a $700 billion borrowing essentially over the next ten years to give a tax cut almost entirely to millionaires and billionaires," Axelrod told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning. "More than half of that tax cut go to people who make $8 million a year or more. "We don't have the money for that."
Obama is expected to push for an extension of tax cuts on the middle class during a speech in Cleveland Thursday while rolling back those tax cuts on earners making more than $200,000 a year. Republicans have said they are only in favor of keeping all the tax cuts in place.
Axelrod also weighed in on a recent New York Times column by Peter Orszag, in which the former White House economic advisor appeared to break ranks with the White House and call for a two-year extension of the tax cuts at all income levels.
"What he said is he would prefer if we didn't move forward on the tax cuts for higher income people. He didn't think they were useful. He thought we might have to in order to get them passed," said Axelrod. "He was offering a legislative strategy on substance. What we need are the middle class tax cuts. The middle class has taken it - taken the hardest hit in the last ten years."
The tax cuts – passed under former President Bush in 2000 – will expire completely at the end of this year if Congress does not act.