- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2009

President Obama says he’s still committed to his middle-class tax cuts and will fight Congress to get them passed and made permanent.

“I’m going to be pushing as hard as I can to get it done in this budget. If it’s not done in this budget, then I’m going to keep on pushing for it next year and the year afterward,” Mr. Obama said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program.

The first two years of the refundable tax credit is already in place, having passed in the stimulus spending bill Mr. Obama signed in February. But Democrats’ budget plans in the House and the Senate do not include a permanent extension of the credit, which can be as much as $400 for an individual or $800 for a married couple.

The fiight over the tax cuts, which Mr. Obama says would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, puts him in the same position as his predecessor, President Bush — who won short-term tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, then spent the rest of his tenure fighting to get them made permanent.

“I strongly believe we should continue those tax cuts. We should make them permanent,” Mr. Obama said in the interview, which was recorded Friday and aired Sunday.

On other topics, Mr. Obama said he sees no reason to speed up his time line for withdrawing most U.S. troops from Iraq, arguing that political reconciliation still needs to occur and Iraq’s armed forces still need the help.

“I am confident that we are moving in the right direction, but Iraq is not yet completed,” he said.

The president has announced a plan to steadily bring home troops through August 2010 but leave up to 50,000 troops in place for what he deems a new, noncombat mission of training and providing security for U.S. interests as well as a potential staging area to fight terrorism.

On Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said his plan, announced Friday, to dispatch an additional 4,000 troops to train Afghan soldiers, in addition to 17,000 troops he already approved, means the United States finally is putting the right resources into that conflict.

Asked by host Bob Schieffer if that increase means this is now Mr. Obama’s war, the president said: “It’s America’s war, and it’s the same war that we intiated after 9/11.”

He also said he does not yet think more National Guard troops are needed on the U.S.-Mexican border, and instead wants to see whether the hundreds of federal law enforcement agents he has asked to redeploy to the border will be able to stop drug violence from spilling over.

“The main thing we need is better enforcement,” he said.

And in advance of his Monday announcement of a plan to help out auto manufacturers, Mr. Obama said the auto industry is not yet on a sustainable path and he will require “a set of sacrifices from all parties involved.”

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