Will Obama's views on tax reform 'evolve' too?

Will Obama's public support of marriage equality spill over to financial matters?

Pete Souza/AP/The White House/File
In this photo released by The White House, President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, in Washington.

Robin, thanks for asking me back on Good Morning America to talk about my views on tax reform. After we spoke about gay marriage, I got to thinking about another deeply-held emotional issue that affects every American family.

Well– you know, I have to tell you, as I’ve said, I’ve– I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue. I’ve always been adamant that Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I do believe we ought to have a revenue code that raises enough money to fund the government we want. And we should do it in a way that interferes as little as possible in the market economy.  

I’ve stood on the side of tax reform. But I had hesitated– in part, because I thought tinkering around the edges would be sufficient–something that would close a few loopholes and raise taxes on the rich. And– I was sensitive to the fact that– for a lot of people, you know, the– the phrase tax reform is something that evokes very powerful reactions, brings out the lobbyists, and so forth.

But I have to tell you that over the course of several years, as I talk to friends and family and neighbors. When I think about members of my own staff who pay very high tax rates, who are raising kids together but are thrown into the Alternative Minimum Tax…. When I think about new businesses that are unable to take advantage of the same tax subsidies that their bigger, more established competitors can and cannot commit themselves to expanding their business….

You know, Malia and Sasha, they’ve got friends whose parents make the same income and even do the same kind of work, but who pay very different effective tax rates.  And I– you know, there have been times where Michelle and I have been sittin’ around the dinner table. And we’ve been talkin’ and– about their friends and their parents. And Malia and Sasha would– it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them.

And– and frankly– that’s the kind of thing that prompts– a change of perspective. You know, not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated– differently, when it comes to– the eyes of the law.

At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that– for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that– I think the tax code needs a major reform. Now– I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didn’t want to politicize the issue. There’s a tendency when I weigh in to think suddenly it becomes political and it becomes polarized.

And what you’re seeing is, I think, Members of Congress working through this issue– in fits and starts. Different policymakers are arriving at different conclusions, at different times. And I think that’s a healthy process and a healthy debate. But this is an issue upon which the President must lead, and that is what I will do.

That is why I have asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to develop a detailed, specific tax reform plan in consultation with congressional leaders of both parties, business leaders, and others. I will present this plan to the American people next January and will strongly urge Congress to complete action on the bill by the end of 2013.

Thank you Robin, for letting me get this off my chest.  

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