MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Barack Obama tried to re-ignite the passion from his 2008 campaign tonight in Hollywood as he mingled with supporters at the Westin Diplomat Hotel.
“It’s tempting to be cynical and say, ‘it’s just too hard,’” he told the crowd of 850 people. “ So I’m here to remind you, I didn’t say it was going to be easy.”
The president went on to say that he needs a second term to finish what he started.
“If you’re willing to work even harder than we did in 2008 we will finish what we started and we will remind the remind the world just why it is that America’s the greatest nation on earth,” he said as the crowd cheered.
President Obama’s fundraiser come just a short time after he spoke at Florida Atlantic University where a crowd of roughly 4,500 chanted “four more years” as he took the stage.
“So let me ask you: what’s a better way to make our economy stronger? Giving another $150,000 tax break to every millionaire and billionaire in the country? or making investments in education and research and health care and our veterans?” President Obama asked the crowd in his speech.
Mr. Obama outlined his support for the so-called “Buffett rule” arguing that wealthy investors should not pay taxes at a lower rate than middle-class wage earners. The rule is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Right now, the share of our national income flowing to the top 1 percent has climbed to levels last seen in the 1920′s,” Obama said. “And yet those same people are also paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years. You might have heard this, but Warren Buffet is paying a lower tax rate than his secretary.”
“That’s wrong. It isn’t fair. And it’s time for us to choose which direction we want to go in as a country,” Obama continued. “Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffet, or Bill Gats – people who don’t need them and never asked for them?”
“Or, do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure; that’s the choice”
Freshman Jordan Horowitz hoped Obama would touch on where we go from here.
“How he envisions the future,” said Horowitz, “I feel we should focus on electric cars and wind power, that could increase the economy.”
The push for the Buffett rule comes ahead of a Senate vote next week and as millions of Americans prepare to file their income tax returns. The plan has little chance of passing Congress, but Senate Democrats say the issue underscores the need for economic fairness.
Obama proposed that people earning at least $1 million annually, whether in salary or investments, should pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes. Many wealthy taxpayers earn investment income, which is taxed at 15 percent, allowing them to pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes. By contrast, the top rate for taxpayers with high incomes derived from wages is 35 percent.
“I’ve told you where I stand,” Obama said. “Now it’s time for Members of Congress to do the same. In the next few weeks, they’re going to vote on something called the Buffet Rule: If you make more than $1 million every year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle class families do. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year – like 98 percent of American families do – your taxes shouldn’t go up. It’s that simple.”
The White House said in a report released ahead of Obama’s speech that the tax proposal would restore fairness to the system, pointing to 22,000 households earning more than $1 million annually that paid less than 15 percent of their income in income taxes in 2009. Nearly 1,500 of those households paid no federal income taxes, the report said.
Obama economic adviser Jason Furman said the Buffett rule reflected the “most simple, common-sense element of any tax reform.”
Obama told the students that investments in things like education, research, and health care aren’t part of a scheme to redistribute wealth, “They’ve been made by Democrats and Republicans for generations because they benefit all of us, and lead to strong, durable economic growth.
If you’re here at FAU because you got financial aid or a student loan or a scholarship, which is how I was able to go to college, that doesn’t just benefit you,” Obama will tell the students. “It benefits whatever company might profit from the skills you’ve learned here. If one of you goes on to become the next Steve Jobs, or discovers a medical breakthrough, think about all the people whose lives you’ll change for the better.”
“In this country, prosperity has never trickled-down from a wealthy few,” Obama said. “Prosperity has always come from a strong and growing middle class. That’s how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill – including my grandfather – helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made a point to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. America isn’t about a few people doing well. It’s about giving everyone the chance to do well.”
Small business owner Mark Eckert said he liked the idea of everyone paying their fair share, but doesn’t think it will work.
“They’ll find another loophole,” Eckert said. “They’ll make sure the money’s over there instead of here so they don’t have to pay his extra rate.”
Eckert said instead that the federal government should lower corporate tax rates from the historically low levels they’re at now.
“I think if the U.S. had the lowest corporate tax rate in the world, we would have so many jobs we wouldn’t know what to do with, because everybody would have to have their business here,” Eckert said.
Following his event at the Westin Diplomat he will attend followed by a private fundraiser dinner.
The events are expected to raise at least $1.7 million.