Fox invented a contradiction between two of President Obama's previous statements and his current push to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. In reality, Obama's prior comments are perfectly consistent with his current position.
Fox's Steve Doocy pointed to a statement Obama made in 2009 when the country was still in a recession to create a contradiction between Obama's past and present statements on letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Doocy claimed the president said back in 2009, "you never raise taxes during a recession," but that he's now saying: "This is the perfect time to raise taxes."
In August 2009, Obama said that "normally you don't raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven't." President Obama added: "We have not proposed a tax hike for the wealthy that would take effect in the middle of a recession."
At the time the president made that statement, the country was just at the end of a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research (the organization that semi-officially declares when the United States is in a recession) announced that the recession officially ended in June 2009, but it did not make that announcement until September 2010.
Later in the same segment, Fox's Dana Perino pointed to a different Obama statement as "slightly more important." Perino said that in December 2010 -- i.e., after it was clear that the country was in recovery -- Obama said "the worst thing you can do is raise taxes in the middle of a slow economic growth and high unemployment. Let's extend these tax cuts for another two years."
But Perino completely misrepresented Obama's 2010 comments.
Obama made the comments while announcing a deal with Republicans on taxes and unemployment benefits that extended the Bush tax for all income taxpayer for two years. In the statement, Obama actually made it abundantly clear that he favored extending the cuts only for the middle class, not the wealthiest Americans. Obama explained that a tax increase on middle class Americans would harm the economy while a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans would have little effect. But he said the only way to prevent a middle class tax increase was to agree to a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans too.:
Ever since I started running for this office I've said that we should only extend the tax cuts for the middle class. These are the Americans who've taken the biggest hit not only from this recession but from nearly a decade of costs that have gone up while their paychecks have not. It would be a grave injustice to let taxes increase for these Americans right now. And it would deal a serious blow to our economic recovery.
Now, Republicans have a different view. They believe that we should also make permanent the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. I completely disagree with this. A permanent extension of these tax cuts would cost us $700 billion at a time when we need to start focusing on bringing down our deficit. And economists from all across the political spectrum agree that giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires does very little to actually grow our economy.
This is where the debate has stood for the last couple of weeks. And what is abundantly clear to everyone in this town is that Republicans will block a permanent tax cut for the middle class unless they also get a permanent tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, regardless of the cost or impact on the deficit.
I have no doubt that everyone will find something in this compromise that they don't like. In fact, there are things in here that I don't like -- namely the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the wealthiest estates. But these tax cuts will expire in two years. And I'm confident that as we make tough choices about bringing our deficit down, as I engage in a conversation with the American people about the hard choices we're going to have to make to secure our future and our children's future and our grandchildren's future, it will become apparent that we cannot afford to extend those tax cuts any longer.
Between the end of the recession and now, the economy made significant strides, including 12 straight quarters of growth. It is entirely consistent for President Obama to resume the push to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent expire given that the economy is now on more stable footing.