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President Obama pushes 'grand bargain' focused on middle-class jobs

White House officials say just because they're at an impasse with congressional Republicans over a grand bargain on reducing the deficit doesn't mean they shouldn't look for other areas of agreement. So Obama plans to use a trip to an Amazon.com distribution center in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Tuesday to propose a "grand bargain for middle-class jobs."

"As part of his efforts to focus Washington on the middle class, today in Tennessee the president will call on Washington to work on a grand bargain focused on middle-class jobs by pairing reform of the business tax code with a significant investment in middle-class jobs," Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said.

Obama has long called for a cut in corporate tax rates, but previously insisted such business tax reform be coupled with an individual tax overhaul. He's dropping that demand and says instead that he's open to the corporate tax cut that that businesses crave. But he wants it to be coupled with a significant investment on some sort of job creation program, such as manufacturing, infrastructure or community colleges.

House Speaker John Boehner's office said Obama's proposals were hardly a compromise. "This proposal allows President Obama to support President Obama's position on taxes and President Obama's position on spending, while leaving small businesses and American families behind," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

Congressional Republicans have long insisted on tying corporate and individual tax reform so that small business owners who use the individual tax code would be offered cuts along with large corporations.

Obama plannes to make his remarks from an Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, one of more than a dozen warehouses operated by the world's largest online retailer, which announced Monday that it would increase hiring. The company said it would add 7,000 new jobs, including 5,000 more at U.S. distribution centers that currently employ about 20,000 workers who pack and ship customer orders. Amazon.com Inc. has been spending heavily on order fulfillment to help its business grow.

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Obama proposed last year to overhaul corporate taxes by lowering rates from the current 35 percent to 28 percent, with an even lower effective tax rate of 25 percent for manufacturers. The U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, but many businesses avoid the full cost by taking advantage of deductions, credits and exemptions that Obama wants to eliminate.

Obama wants to do away with corporate tax benefits like oil and natural gas industry subsidies, special breaks for the purchase of private jets and certain corporate tax shelters. He also wants to impose a minimum tax on foreign earnings, a move opposed by multinational corporations and perhaps the most contentious provision in the president's plan.

The president has made little progress to date toward getting Republicans to sign on to a "grand bargain" of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit.


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