President Obama put Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney squarely in the hot seat as the beneficiary of a skewed tax system when Obama delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
The president didn't mention Romney by name, but the GOP hopeful was clearly a case in point as Obama talked about the need to raise taxes on the rich. This came a few hours after Romney released financial documents revealing that he and his wife earned about $27 million in 2010 and paid a federal tax rate of about 14 percent. Obama called for tax reform that would make rich people like Romney pay what he called their "fair share."
"If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes," Obama said.
He added: "We don't begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, its not because they envy the rich. It's because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don't need and the country can't afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference—like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That's not right."
After the address, Romney made a larger point about what he considers Obama's unreliability. He told NBC that Obama may talk a good game, but he can't be counted on to keep his promises.
Romney said, "Unfortunately, what he says and what he does are so dramatically different that you have to be a little surprised."
Romney and his rivals for the GOP nomination—former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas—are expected to blast Obama's State of the Union remarks in a debate scheduled Thursday night in Florida.
Obama seems to be on solid political ground regarding the issue of tax fairness. Most voters favor taxing the rich at higher rates than middle class earners. For example, 52 percent of Americans said income generated by investments should be taxed at the same rate as work income, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll. Only 36 percent said the tax system should be kept in its current form, in which unearned income is generally taxed at about 15 percent and earned income at a higher rate. Fifty-five per cent said they believe the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes, while 24 percent said the tax rate paid by the wealthy is "about right," according to the poll.