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Remarks at Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank
Remarks at Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland

Thank you, Mayor Rawlings-Blake.  It’s great to be here in Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor.

For the past four years, President Obama has put a top priority on promoting jobs and growth, helping to get our country out of the worst economic recession since the 1930s.  ver the past 33 months, we’ve created 5.6 million new jobs.

But there’s more work to do. We need to build on the progress and growth we’ve seen as a result of this administration’s policies.  

The president has been clear that to resolve the fiscal cliff, we must apply a balanced approach, involving both tax increases and spending reductions.

Let me talk first about tax changes. Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so it’s important that Americans don’t face a big hit to their wallets next year.  

There is nothing more important to our continued economic growth than ensuring that middle class families can count on stable jobs and a steady income, so they can buy things they need and want.  

If we do nothing, taxes on the average American family of four will rise by $2,200 next year. That’s why the president wants to preserve the current income tax rates for middle-class families.  

We don’t want to take the wind out of the sails of retail spending and tourism growth in places like Baltimore.

And let me be clear about what the president is proposing. Taxes will stay low for the first $250,000 of every American family’s income. That means taxes won’t go up at all for the 98 percent of America’s families and 97 percent of small businesses who make less than that. Tax rates will modestly rise on the top income earnings, back to the levels they were in the 1990s under President Clinton, a period when economic growth was strong.

But a balanced approach requires spending cuts as well.  

The president has a detailed and specific plan that builds on the $1 trillion in spending cuts that he has already signed into law. In total, his plan includes roughly $2 of spending cuts for every $1 in revenue.

Altogether, the president has proposed increases in revenue and cuts to spending which will reduce the government deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

The president is not wedded to every detail–he is open to compromise. But at the same time, he will insist that everyone—especially the wealthiest—do their fair share. And he will never stop fighting for the middle class.  

What’s clear, though, is that eliminating deductions and loopholes is not enough to both reduce the deficit by $4 trillion in a balanced way and protect the middle class. Rate changes for the top 2 percent will need to play a role. 

The president is committed to working collaboratively with leadership on Capitol Hill to find a solution to the so-called fiscal cliff, but it must include a balance of both revenues as well as budget cuts.  

It is critical that we extend middle class tax cuts as soon as possible. 

If Congress doesn’t act, it’s estimated that–next year–consumers could spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would. Businesses here on the Waterfront don’t want that to happen. The workers I will meet today don’t want that to happen. The 7.6 million people throughout America’s tourism industry don’t want that to happen either. 

We need to provide these businesses–and their customers–with the certainty they need to plan for the future, creating a stable environment which allows for long-term, strong economic growth and more jobs. 

Now is the time to make sure that both consumers and businesses remain confident about the strength of America’s economy and the ability of our government to resolve problems.  

Let’s get this done–the sooner the better.