The Wrights from Marrietta, Pennsylvania, and the Kirkwoods from Lynchburg, Virginia supported then-candidate Obama during the campaign as he was touting his promise of a Making Work Pay tax credit. Chris and Guenna Wright just bought a new home with their four-year-old son after seven years in their previous house. Kelly Kirkwood is a part time Nursery School teacher at Randolph College in Lynchburg, and her husband Scott is a graphic designer for a small local company – together they are living paycheck-to-paycheck during this economic downturn. Today all of them came to the White House to meet with now-President Obama on tax day, with the President having made good on his pledge.
Clark Harrison from Preston, Maryland and Latoya Malone from West Hempstead, New York both made good on the $8,000 home-buyers tax credit. For Clark it was exactly the breathing room he needed to be able to settle bills and make the fixes to the house, allowing him to get out on his own. For Latoya, who moved from the Virgin Islands to New York City to be close to her mother, the home-buyers tax credit helped put a house that had seemed just out of reach under contract for her.
Those stories, and others like them, were what the President heard in his meeting today with families from across the country. He asked them to join him on stage afterwards when he spoke to the press:
Good morning. I decided not to bring Bo today -- because he stepped on my economic speech yesterday. (Laughter.)
Good morning. I know that April 15th isn't exactly everyone's favorite date on the calendar. But it is an important opportunity for those of us in Washington to consider our responsibilities to the people who sent us here and who pay the bills. And I've brought some friends of mine who sent me here and pay the bills.
Across America, families like the people who join me have had tough choices forced upon them because of this economic downturn. Many have lost a job; many are fighting to keep their business open. Many more are struggling to make payments, to stay in their home, or to pursue a college education. And these Americans are the backbone of our economy, the backbone of our middle class. They're the workers, the innovators, the students who are going to be powering our recovery. So their dreams have to be our own. They need a government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth automatically trickles down.
And that's why my administration has taken far-reaching action to give tax cuts to the Americans who need them, while jump-starting growth and job creation in the process. We start from the simple premise that we should reduce the tax burden on working people, while helping Americans go to college, own a home, raise a family, start a business and save for retirement. Those goals are the foundation of the American Dream, and they are the focus of my tax policy.
The President went through the tax changes enacted just in these past few months, including: 1) The Making Work Pay credit for 95% of American families; 2) allowing small businesses to offset their losses during this downturn against the income they’ve earned over the last five years; 3) a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college; 4) the $8,000 for credit for first-time home buyers. He also made clear that while the tax code is being made right, the federal government will also do its part to tighten its belt, reiterating that his Administration has identified two trillion dollars in deficit-reductions over the next decade: "That’s why we’re cutting programs that don’t work, contracts that aren’t fair, and spending that we don’t need."
He stood by his long-standing intentions to end tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas, and for people like himself who have made enough money not to need them. Lastly, he pledged as a long-term goal to greatly simplify the tax code and filing process, recognizing that this can be a hardship in itself at this time of year. He closed explaining that his tax policies are guided not by ideology but by the real experiences of people like those he met with today:
Now, I just had a conversation with these wonderful Americans, and like people I talked to all across the country, they're not looking for a free ride. Every single person here is working hard and deserves a chance to get ahead. And they're a family like -- families like the Kirkwoods, who just want to own their own business and put away some money away for their kids' college tuition. And they're workers like Clark Harrison, behind me, who has worked hard and wants to be able to purchase that first home. They're business owners like Alan Givens, who wants his company to sustain itself through bad times as well as the good. And I was encouraged to hear that Alan's business is going strong on a whole bunch of clean energy measures that he's helping to promote in his area.
For too long, we've seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams. That has to change, and that's the work that we've begun. We've passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow. We've made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 a year will not see their taxes increase by a single dime. And we have kept to those promises that were made during the campaign. We've given tax relief to the Americans who need it and the workers who have earned it. And we're helping more Americans move towards their American Dream by going to school, owning a home, keeping their business and raising their family.
President Barack Obama is joined by taxpaying citizens as he gives remarks Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on the tax cut for 95 percent of American workers.
White House Photo/Chuck Kennedy