* Clinton comments run counter to Obama campaign
* Low tax rates expire at end of the year
WASHINGTON, June 5 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
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
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
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.