Former President Bill Clinton tells Newsmax that he stands by comments he made saying he doesn't support tax increases and spending cuts at this moment in the midst of the nation's economic crisis.
But he does agree with President Barack Obama's proposal to raise taxes on the nation's wealthier citizens. “I favor people in my income group — the top 1 percent or a fraction of it — paying more not because I want to punish success, but because I think the only way to balance the budget is through economic growth, spending restraint, and new revenues,” he said.
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Earlier this year, the former president made headlines during an interview with Newsmax when he said it would be a mistake to increase taxes during an economic downturn. That view was widely interpreted as diverging from President Obama's focus on raising taxes on the wealthy.
But in a Newsmax interview last week to discuss Clinton’s new best-selling book, "Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy,"
the former president emphasized that timing is everything when it comes to raising taxes.
Obama, he said, "doesn't propose to raise any taxes before 2013. And he is assuming that the economy will have recovered sufficiently in 2012 to do that."
That would be a policy he agrees with, he said.
As for increasing taxes on the wealthy, Clinton said: "We're in the best position to chip in. In other words, to me we ought to do it because we should be trying to create an economy of shared prosperity with a growing middle class and declining poverty — not because I want to punish people who are successful or I think they're bad.
"But, like I said in the book, Willie Sutton said he robbed banks 'cause that's where the money was. Right now, we've got the money, and more of it than we've had since the 1920s.
"And so I think we'll actually benefit from broader prosperity, from having a more vibrant small-business community, from having more middle class wages going up, and stronger families, and especially reversing this big increase in poverty through work, having poor people work their way into the middle class," he said.
The former president told Newsmax it would be a mistake to cut discretionary spending in a bid to reduce the deficit, because it would have a negative impact on the nation's future.
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