Obama Tax Cuts Likely Soon

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 29, 2008

HONOLULU, Dec. 28 -- President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan will include an immediate tax cut for middle-class families, and the incoming administration hopes to enact permanent tax cuts soon thereafter, a senior adviser to Obama said Sunday.

David Axelrod said the stimulus package will be implemented soon, given the worsening economy, and could cost $675 billion to $775 billion. The massive recovery plan will seek to create or save 3 million jobs, he said in appearances Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS's "Face the Nation."

"Look, we feel it's important that middle-class people get some relief now," Axelrod said on "Meet the Press." Obama has "promised a middle-class tax cut," he added. "This package will include a portion of that tax cut that will become part of the permanent tax cut he'll have in his upcoming budget."

Giving people more spending money will "help get our economy going again," Axelrod said. He also said he is hopeful that the recovery plan will be ready for Obama to sign soon after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

"Obviously, the sooner the better," Axelrod said on "Face the Nation." "I don't think Americans can wait. People are suffering, our economy is sliding, and we need to act. And so our message to Congress is to work on it with all deliberate speed."

Obama, in the second week of a vacation in Hawaii, continues to work on his economic plan, aides said. He is considering immediate tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals, which would be delivered through reduced tax withholding from paychecks, a transition aide said. That plan could cost about $140 billion over the next two years, the aide said.

Axelrod said that the incoming administration plans to propose permanent tax cuts in its next budget but that officials have not determined the form of those cuts. They are likely to be based on Obama's campaign proposal, which said that families earning less than $250,000 would see their taxes remain the same or decrease.

Asked by NBC's David Gregory whether Obama will raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans by reversing President Bush's tax cuts, Axelrod said Bush's plan is "something that we plainly can't afford moving forward."

"Whether it expires or whether we repeal it a little bit early, we'll determine later, but it's going to go," Axelrod said. "It has to go."

Obama's economic stimulus plan is expected to include billions in new spending on infrastructure projects, aid to beleaguered state governments and programs to create jobs. Axelrod said creating jobs is an essential part of the plan.

"We want to do it in a way that leaves a lasting footprint, by investing in energy and health-care projects, and refurbishing the nation's classrooms and labs and libraries so our kids can compete, and rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges and waterways," he said on "Face the Nation." "And, in this way, we're not only just -- we're not only creating work, but we're laying the foundation for the future of our economy."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company