Bill Clinton: Extend all Bush-era tax cuts for a year

Tue Jun 5, 2012 6:54pm EDT

* Clinton comments run counter to Obama campaign

* Low tax rates expire at end of the year

WASHINGTON, June 5 (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday jumped into the debate over how to handle the looming expiration of historically low tax rates paid by nearly every American, putting him somewhat at odds with fellow Democratic President Barack Obama.

Clinton, speaking on the cable television program CNBC, said Congress may have to temporarily extend all of the low tax rates that expire at the end of the year to give lawmakers more time to come up with a plan to cut deficits.

The former president's quip marked the second time in recent days that his message ran counter to that of the Obama re-election campaign.

Last week, Clinton suggested that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was qualified to be president and noted that had a "sterling business career."

The remarks came as the Obama campaign was trying to raise doubts about Romney's record in the private sector.

The tax cuts were first put in place under former President George W. Bush. Obama extended the rates for two years at the end of 2010, after Democrats suffered huge losses in congressional elections.

Now, Obama and Democrats want to let some of the lower tax rates expire for the wealthiest Americans. Clinton's comments could undercut that position.

"They will probably have to put everything off until early next year," Clinton said on Tuesday.

But the former Democratic president also had some criticisms of Republicans, saying that it would be a mistake to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts and that Republican deficit-reduction ideas could hurt the U.S. economy.

Republicans jumped on Clinton's remarks about the Bush tax cuts to bolster their case that the economy will be harmed if some of the tax rates for wealthier Americans are allowed to expire.

Clinton and Obama have had a tense relationship over the years, dating back to Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

If Congress fails to act on the Bush-era tax cuts before Jan. 1, letting all the lower rates lapse, the country could dip briefly back into a recession, the Congressional Budget Office said last month.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (13)
FredF99 wrote:
Hasn’t 4 years been long enough to sort this out? What makes Bill Clinton think that they can sort this out next year or even in the year after, especially if the Republicans gain control of the senate? How about a bit more governing and less electioneering by both sides on this issue or we should throw all the bums out in November. Sorting this issue out quickly will be a huge fillip to small business morale for investing and creating jobs now.

Jun 05, 2012 7:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
CharlesKayeAZ wrote:
It’s pretty bad when democrats have to admit that the best thing to do is follow Bush’s tax plan…

Jun 05, 2012 7:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MassResident wrote:
Forget that idea. Our only hope for avoiding national bankruptcy is to allow the “automatic cuts” to go into effect. That was the whole point of passing them in the first place. No one in Congress will have to take the blame because they can all accuse the other party of preventing “compromise” when no one can afford to agree to one in an election year.

Jun 05, 2012 7:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.