Obama economic adviser: Class warfare charges are 'hyperventilation'
January 31st, 2014
11:53 AM ET
8 months ago

Obama economic adviser: Class warfare charges are 'hyperventilation'

Washington (CNN) – With the White House seizing on income inequality as a key issue ahead of this year’s midterm elections, President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser on Friday brushed off “class warfare” charges from the nation’s wealthiest citizens as “hyperventilation."

Appearing at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, Jason Furman, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, was asked how the administration plans to talk about inequality without stoking paranoia among the rich.

“Just take a look at facts, and you look at the tax rate on the top one percent, for example,” Furman said. “Even with the higher rates as part of the tax deal at the beginning of the year, it’s still lower than it was in the mid-1990s because, for example, the capital gains and dividends rates are both lower than they were then.”

He added, “Some is this just hyperventilation around not paying attention to specific facts and data. No one here is talking about 100 percent tax rates or 70 percent tax rates.”

In the Wall Street Journal this week, Silicon Valley investor Tom Perkins compared the “progressive war on the American one percent” to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.  “I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,” he wrote in a letter to the newspaper.

Perkins later apologized for the Holocaust comparison.

Furman said the nation’s top earners should join middle class and lower-income Americans in a conversation about the inequality issue.

At the session with reporters, Furman also made the case for immigration reform, saying that a path to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented workers continues to be a top demand of the president.

House Republicans indicated Thursday at their retreat in Maryland that they are open to some kind of legal status for undocumented immigrants, but stopped short of backing full citizenship.

“There are a lot of arguments for why you want to have pathway to citizenship,” Furman said. “One thing the president said is you don’t want to have a major, once-in-a-generation piece of legislation and solve half the problem and leave people in some in-between state.”

“The more you bring people in from the shadows and give them certainty, the better that is for the economy,” he said.


Filed under: Economy • President Obama
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    In the last 30 years, the top 1% earnings have rose 281% while middle class wages have been stagnant. That's a FACT! So who is really waging class warfare?

    January 31, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. just asking

    With the White House seizing on income inequality as a key issue ahead of this year’s midterm elections, President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser on Friday brushed off “class warfare” charges from the nation’s wealthiest citizens as “hyperventilation."
    -–

    of course it is.... the same old stale lies with a new marketing plan. i can hardly wait for the income inequality squatters in the parks.

    it is the leftist way. pit one segment against another. divide and conquer. mythical wars aganst everything and everybody. this is the 10th showing of this campaign strategy. do they think the entire country is blind and stupid? it is the only way to distract from their total failures, blame it on others.

    January 31, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. Harold Read

    Why unify the country to achieve and strive for the success of the country when it is easier to pit "us" vs. "them" and provide hand-outs to everyone?
    Who doesn't like "free" stuff?!

    January 31, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Trickle down economics is a bad hoax. The phrase "the rich get richer while the poor get poorer" is true.

    January 31, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Would You Look at That

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?
    In the last 30 years, the top 1% earnings have rose 281% while middle class wages have been stagnant. That's a FACT! So who is really waging class warfare?
    ---------------–
    So, you're saying the stock market has, on average, done well for 30 years now... that's a 4.56% compounded annual increase... that's a small wage increase for professional careers...

    January 31, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Donna

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?
    In the last 30 years, the top 1% earnings have rose 281% while middle class wages have been stagnant. That's a FACT! So who is really waging class warfare?
    -–

    Sorry but my middle class wages haven't been stagnant. Every case is unique. People that have dropped out of school or not kept their skills up to date get paid less. People with no education get paid less than those that have 8 years of college. People that work hard and save do better than those that slack off and spend all their money.

    If this country is suffering from anything it is an EFFORT inequality gap. Taking from others to give to slackers hurts both. Don't drag down all of the doers and makers just to reward the do-nothings and takes.

    January 31, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. Would You Look at That

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?
    Trickle down economics is a bad hoax. The phrase "the rich get richer while the poor get poorer" is true.
    -------------
    Only because the poor have zero, or minimal, invested assets... the "evil" 1% make a GREAT portion of their income from the markets... not wages.

    January 31, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Donna

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?
    Trickle down economics is a bad hoax. The phrase "the rich get richer while the poor get poorer" is true.
    --

    Tired old cliches is all you got... Of course rich people tend to get richer, unless they are really stupid or take bad risks, When has there never been poor and rich people in the entire history of the planet? I'm sure some cavemen had bigger caves and were better hunters than other cavemen. Was the answer to handicap the better hunter?

    The looney left is just sooo out of touch with reality.

    January 31, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    "... Jason Furman, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, was asked how the administration plans to talk about inequality without stoking paranoia among the rich."
    --------------------------------
    I say, "Let 'em sweat." Maybe they get out and spend a little money on a therapist. It'll help the economy. Because if they were doing right by God, then they wouldn't be worried about a thing.

    January 31, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    "Only because the poor have zero, or minimal, invested assets... the "evil" 1% make a GREAT portion of their income from the markets... not wages."
    ----------------------------
    Yup, CEOs and other top executives do have compensation packages that include lots of stocks. Yup, you're right.

    =================================================

    "Tired old cliches is all you got..."
    -------------------------–
    Actually, Republicans fired the first shot by calling out "class warfare", which is a tired old cliche that they've using for decades.

    January 31, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Tommy G

    The Democrats and their extreme leftwing views will drag this country down. Their control of the schools has already dumbed it down. Over achievers get held back by the lower IQs so the lower IQs don't feel so bad. This stupid everybody should get a trophy mentally has bred a generation of people unwilling or unable to compete in the real world. The rest of the world is not dumbing down and holding back, they are rewarding the over achievers. Over achievers is was drives the country and economy. Show me one company or idea that came from a low achieving slacker.

    January 31, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    He's right. The 1%ers get the vapors when you start talking about making them live in a manner that's actually equal to the rest of the country, which they truly believe is inferior to them. They've been told and treated for several decades that their wealth inherently proves they are virtuous, worthy and entitled to special considerations and treatment and advantages like tax loopholes and deductions only they could possibly ever use. They are now starting to realize that the pendulum is slowing, reaching its apex. What frightens them most is that, deep down, they know it's a necessary course correction if the country is to survive. It's also more or less inevitable and the only choice is whether we do this the easy way or the hard way.

    Fainting couches all throughout the Hamptons and the Hills are permanently occupied over the thought of having to own 3 houses instead of 4, having 6 bathrooms instead of 8. The Tom Perkins's of the world wake in the night drenched in sweat wondering how long they can manage hold back the angry mobs with walls of PAC donations and plutocratic policies designed to subjugate the masses by teaching them helplessness and hopelessness. Good.

    January 31, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    He's right. The 1%ers get the vapors when you start talking about making them live in a manner that's actually equal to the rest of the country, which they truly believe is inferior to them. They've been told and treated for several decades that their wealth inherently proves they are virtuous, worthy and entitled to special considerations and treatment and advantages like tax loopholes and deductions only they could possibly ever use. They are now starting to realize that the pendulum is slowing, reaching its apex. What frightens them most is that, deep down, they know it's a necessary course correction if the country is to survive. It's also more or less inevitable and the only choice is whether we do this the easy way or the hard way.

    January 31, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "The looney left is just sooo out of touch with reality."

    Says the person using cartoonish caveman analogies as if it proves some sort of biological, evolutionary understanding of this issue. You may be proud of your sloped forehead, pronounced brow ridge and oh-so-smooth cortex, Donna, but the rest of us are past that stage.

    He's right. The 1%ers get the vapors when you start talking about making them live in a manner that's actually equal to the rest of the country, which they truly believe is inferior to them. They've been told and treated for several decades that their wealth inherently proves they are virtuous, worthy and entitled to special considerations and treatment and advantages like tax loopholes and deductions only they could possibly ever use. They are now starting to realize that the pendulum is slowing, reaching its apex. What frightens them most is that, deep down, they know it's a necessary course correction if the country is to survive. It's also more or less inevitable and the only choice is whether we do this the easy way or the hard way.

    Fainting couches all throughout the Hamptons and the Hills are permanently occupied over the thought of having to own 3 houses instead of 4, having 6 bathrooms instead of 8. The Tom Perkins's of the world wake in the night drenched in sweat wondering how long they can manage hold back the angry mobs with walls of PAC donations and plutocratic policies designed to subjugate the masses by teaching them helplessness and hopelessness. Good.

    January 31, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. current state of the union

    Well, if you make them start paying taxes, guess what, their going to demand a higher wage, and we all know what that means.

    January 31, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Someone please explain to me why Jamie Dimon deserves a $20 million dollar raise after JPMorgan paid billions in penalties in 2013.

    January 31, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    - If someone "works", then they receive a wage, or a salary. Every year that pay federal income taxes on those wages.
    – If someone "works, but they receive compensation as stocks, then the reduced taxes because their "wages" are capital gains.

    Does that sound at all fair to you? It doesn't to me. It seems like their gaming the system.

    January 31, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    - If someone "works", then they receive a wage, or a salary. Every year that pay federal income taxes on those wages.
    – If someone "works", but they receive compensation as stocks, then they pay reduced taxes because their "wages" are capital gains.

    Does that sound at all fair to you? It doesn't to me. It seems like their gaming the system.

    January 31, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Over achievers is was drives the country and economy. "

    No, sorry, demand is what drives the economy.

    "Show me one company or idea that came from a low achieving slacker."

    Show me one company or idea that made a ton of money inventing and selling something for which there was no demand.

    January 31, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    It's not that so few have more than 99.9% of the US. Unlike trump, who inherited from his daddy and has been bankrupted how many time?
    On one hand you have somebody who can spend $95M in a NYC apartment. Nothing wrong with that.
    On the other hand you have millions of Americans holding two or three jobs trying to make ends meet and you have the "doctor" from KY who took away unemployment money from millions of Americans because according to him so many have stopped looking for jobs. I hope the same happens to him when he's thrown on his lily white behind out of DC.
    Beside being an atheist herself both Paul's believe in Ayn rand's (named for her I take it) beliefs . . . . "Money is the barometer of a society's virtue" and "the question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."
    Let's throw cantor into the pile because he wants what he wants when he wants it.

    January 31, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. IA

    Love the "spin" on these blogs. Time for a "Lefty-Lib- Love-In" Keep the kool aid jars full.

    January 31, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    Someone made reference to a perceived effort inequality gap: what a crock, except when you consider the GOP stooges in the House who make no effort to come up with anything that actually helps people and can get to Obama's desk. The effort that FOX makes to concoct bizarre theories is nothing compared to the effort of actually informing people about what is really going on in the world. The only effort inequality gap that exists is the one created by the Right, and their absence of action on anything.

    January 31, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Silence DoGood

    @Donna
    Sorry but my middle class wages haven't been stagnant.
    ----------
    The new conservative / religious motto. I got mine – I am OK – others can go suck rocks.

    January 31, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. yolanda

    @Dutch, probably because he saved the bank billions more in penalties. That would be my guess as to the board's reasoning, legit or not.

    January 31, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "The new conservative / religious motto. I got mine – I am OK – others can go suck rocks."

    Indeed. Pulling the ladder up behind them is a core part of their agenda.

    January 31, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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