Obama economic adviser: Class warfare charges are 'hyperventilation'
January 31st, 2014
11:53 AM ET
9 years 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.

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“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. smith

    @Real Tom- There will always be a poor class, middle class, and high class. Its been that way since the begining and will be that way when were dead and gone. Blaming the gap between the rich and the poor on the gop makes no sense. Are you saying there was no gap before the gop party?

    January 31, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    @donna, you work for faux news spreading their "fair and balanced" lies. Of course your wages are not stagnant.
    Speaking of cavemen . . . It's hard to keep up with the super rich when your own elected officials continue to give the rich everything and the vanishing (is it even there anymore?) middle class and the poor are treated like dirt.
    The American dream has become a nightmare. I don't see why anyone wants to come to the US now.

    January 31, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Nice suite !

    Why are all the starfish dyeing on the West Coast ?

    January 31, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    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.
    It sure doesn't sound accurate, that's for sure.

    When someone receives stocks as part of their compensation package, it can take 1 of 2 forms – stock grants or stock options. Stock grants are treated (and taxed) as earned income based on the price of the stock on the date of the grant. Stock options allow the recipient the option to purchase shares at a specified price for a specified period of time. If the option is exercised, the person exercising the option is taxed at the earned income on the difference of the market price at the time the option is exercised and the price offered in the option. Capital gains comes into play only AFTER the sale of shares obtained via grant or option.

    Sorry, Rudy. You're wrong.

    January 31, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Name Uche Agonsi

    The world is not enough for this 1% Americans.

    January 31, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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