Obama, Kyl Differ on Taxes in Advance of April 15

Posted April 10, 2010 at 5:00am

President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to highlight how Americans can take advantage of tax breaks in the Recovery Act in advance of tax day on April 15.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) used the GOP response to argue instead for the extension of Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire.

Obama said average income tax refunds are up nearly 10 percent this year, to an all-time high of about $3,000, largely the result of tax cuts included in the Recovery Act, which so far has provided about $160 billion in cuts for families and businesses.

“No one I’ve met is looking for a handout. And that’s not what these tax cuts are,” Obama said. They are “targeted relief to help middle class families weather the storm” and “jump-start our economy.”

The president cited a list of tax breaks in the stimulus package: a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans, a $2,500 student loan tax credit, a first-time homebuyer tax credit of up to $8,000, a $1,500 tax credit for energy-efficient improvements made to homes and an increase in the earned income tax credit.

Obama said the White House posted a new tax savings tool on its Web site to help people calculate how much money they are owed as a result of tax savings in the Recovery Act. People who have already filed can amend their returns if they missed out on any credits, he said.

But Kyl accused Obama and Congressional Democrats of failing to stimulate job growth as they focused on passing “a controversial health spending bill” opposed by many.

“Recognizing that their $1.2 trillion stimulus has failed and in a frantic, election-year push, Democrats in Congress are labeling every bill they bring up as a ‘jobs’ bill. Most are just more government spending, leading to higher deficits and more debt — and very few jobs,” Kyl said.

By contrast, the Arizona Republican said his party has put forward two ideas for boosting job growth: reining in Washington spending and keeping taxes at a manageable level. He urged Congress not to let Bush-era tax cuts expire on Dec. 31; the 2001 and 2003 tax breaks benefit couples making more than $250,000 and singles making more than $200,000.

“Republicans believe we need to act now, in a bipartisan way, to head off these tax increases. That would show job creators and families that it’s safe to invest and save,” Kyl said.