Ex-Google exec: 'Mr. President, raise my taxes'
At a town hall meeting in Silicon Valley, former Google executive Doug Edwards asked President Obama, 'Would you please raise my taxes?'
Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Photo: ZUMA Press
A rich former Google executive pleaded with President Barack Obama to raise his taxes Monday, boosting the U.S. leader's push to get well-off Americans to bankroll his $447 billion jobs plan.
Obama stormed through the American West on a three-day tour devoted to hammering Republicans and piling up cash for his 2012 reelection bid, which is overshadowed by 9.1 percent unemployment and a wobbling economy.
Former Google brand manager Doug Edwards became an instant media sensation when he joined billionaire investor Warren Buffett in calling for those who had done well in America to do more to help the struggling masses.
"I don't have a job, (I) worked for a small startup down the street here that did quite well," Edwards told Obama, at a Silicon Valley town hall event on the jobs package sponsored by the LinkedIn social network.
"I am unemployed by choice." "My question is — would you please raise my taxes?" Edwards said.
Edwards later told reporters that he had never met Obama, but was invited to the town hall event by a friend who had links to the Democratic Party.
He was at Google during heady expansion years between 1999 and 2005 and said he believed that Americans who could afford it should pay more money in capital gains taxes to help the less well-off, and programs like infrastructure improvements.
Obama, who answered an hour of questions from a decidedly friendly crowd, told Edwards the two of them had become successful because "somebody invested in our education. Somebody built schools."
The president was in the middle of a five-city, three-day swing through the American West, mixing events pushing his jobs plan with big money fundraisers for his 2012 reelection effort.
He has proposed partly financing his jobs plan by raising taxes on the most wealthy Americans and closing corporate tax loopholes.
But Republicans counter that raising taxes in grim economic times would hamper growth and accuse the president of waging "class warfare" for political gain.
On Sunday, Obama warned that Republicans who have blocked his initiatives in Congress since grabbing control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election, would "cripple" America if let back into the White House.
Obama is seeking to repair his own political prospects, dragged down by the economic malaise and a string of bruising battles with Republicans on Capitol Hill, 14 months before he faces disgruntled voters.
His new populist tone comes after repeated attempts to cooperate with Republicans to pass measures to heal the economy, which have dismayed his core political supporters.
On Sunday, as part of a swing through Washington state, California, and swing state Colorado, Obama warned his followers to brace for a "tough" election fight next year.
"This is going to be especially hard because a lot of people are discouraged and a lot of people are disillusioned," Obama said in Seattle.
"I'm determined because there's too much at stake.
"The alternative I think is an approach to government that would fundamentally cripple America in meeting the challenges of the 21st century."
Later, in San Jose, Calif., the president portrayed Republican presidential candidates as extreme and suggested their conservative audiences were not reflective of mainstream America.
"Has anyone been watching the debates lately?" he asked.
"You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change," Obama said, referring to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
"You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have health care, and booing a service member in Iraq because they are gay."
A string of fundraisers are meanwhile aimed at raising millions of dollars for his campaign account ahead of a key interim fundraising deadline at the end of the month.
Many observers feel that Obama's jobs bill has little chance of passing Congress, at least in recognizable form, as even some Democrats in the Senate oppose part of it.
But his senior advisor David Plouffe said Sunday he believed the bill would get a vote. "I think it's got a very good chance," Plouffe said on ABC's "This Week" program.
"This has tax cuts for every small business and every worker, rehiring teachers, modernizing our schools, helping rebuild our infrastructure."
Copyright 2011 AFP Global Edition