Obama makes case for tax cuts in Osawatomie - KCTV5 News

Obama makes case for tax cuts in Osawatomie

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President Barack Obama came to the area today to make his case for middle-class tax cuts.

"When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are swelling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom," Obama said.

And he decried the inequalities between the richest and the middle class, saying it hurts everyone. He drew some of his loudest applause when he said everyone must have a fair shot for success.

"It's heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal," he said. "But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? That's inexcusable. That's wrong. It flies in the face of everything we stand for."

U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, greeted the president when Air Force One landed at Kansas City International Airport. Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's secretary of health and human services, accompanied Obama.

He arrived at Osawatomie about 12:15 p.m. after taking a helicopter from KCI. He began speaking just before 1 p.m.

Obama entered the room to "Hail to the Chief," drawing huge applause. He began by speaking about his family's roots in Kansas. His mother was born in Wichita.

Obama emphasized giving middle-class workers a fair shake and greater financial security, concepts the president will return to repeatedly during the 2012 campaign.

The small Kansas town was chosen because in 1910 President Teddy Roosevelt delivered his "New Nationalism" address there. The announcer badly botched the name of the Kansas town before correcting himself later.

Only a month before Republican voters begin choosing a presidential nominee, Obama  described this as a "make-or-break moment" for the middle class and those hoping to join it that demands balance and rules of the road to help strengthen working families.

Obama lamented the gridlock that pervades Washington.

"This isn't just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time," he said. "This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class."

He called for more government oversight of companies, including anti-fraud violations. But he also advocated a streamlined government.

"It will require those of us in public service to make government more efficient, more effective, more consumer friendly and more responsive to people's needs," he said. "That's why we're cutting programs we don't need to pay for those we do."

He also criticized the Republican Party in a heavily Republican state. The Republican Party greeted Obama's arrival with jeers.

"Maybe instead of trying to be like other presidents, Obama should try being president," Republican National Committee spokesman Ryan Mahoney said. "The president continues to rehash the same ideas and policies when what Americans want is progress. The fact remains the president is desperately trying new slogans and messages to see what sticks because he can't figure out how to sell his last three years of high unemployment and more taxes. Reality is he's failed to lead or live up to the promises he's made."

Obama is pressuring Congress to support an extension of a payroll tax cut that the White House says will give a $1,000 tax cut to a typical family earning $50,000 a year. The president is coupling that with efforts to renew a program of extended unemployment benefits set to expire Dec. 31.

He said he wants more companies to bring jobs to the United States from China.

"Investing in things like education that give everybody a chance to succeed.  A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share.  And laws that make sure everybody follows the rules," he said. "That's what will transform our economy.  That's what will grow our middle class again.  In the end, rebuilding this economy based on fair play, a fair shot, and a fair share will require all of us to see the stake we have in each other's success.  And it will require all of us to take some responsibility to that success."

In his closing remarks, Obama harkened back to Roosevelt's speech to a rain-soaked Osawatomie. Instead of buggy and wagon, people travel now by car and plane. But Obama said the same core American beliefs are the same no matter that the challenges are more complex.

"And we still believe, in the words of the man who called for a New Nationalism all those years ago, 'The fundamental rule in our national life -- the rule which underlies all others -- is that on the whole and in the long run we shall go up or down together,'" Obama said. "And I believe American is on its way up."

Obama spoke for nearly an hour, signifying the importance of the speech to his re-election efforts.

The event began earlier than expected. Some people with tickets were forced to watch from a nearby auditorium rather than the gym after the Fire Marshal said capacity had been reached.

University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self was among those in attendance at Osawatomie High School. He later Tweeted, "Great day. Just met President Obama. So down to earth, loves ball."

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