>The White House says that a median-income Utah family could expect to see its income taxes rise by $2,200 next year if Congress fails to extend the current tax rates for middle-income Americans.
President Barack Obama has proposed keeping in place decade-old tax cuts for those making less than $250,000, which includes some 99 percent of Utahns, according to a White House report issued this week.
Obama wants to let expire tax cuts for people making above that annual income, a move congressional Republicans have argued will hurt small businesses and stall any economic recovery.
The White House, though, argues that the rich can afford to pay more while middle-class Americans shouldn't face higher taxes.
A sharp rise in taxes for middle-class families could slow the growth of Utah's economy by 1.3 percent, according to the President's Council of Economic Advisers, because if taxes rise, Utahns would spend nearly $1.6 billion less than they would have in 2013 because of higher taxes.
Congressional Republicans - including all four Utah members - say that raising taxes on anyone would seriously harm the economy, and taxing the rich more could mean they would have to cut back on jobs for middle-class Americans.
"People need to understand that the reason we worry about raising taxes on anyone - even raising taxes on the rich - it's not that we're looking out for the rich, it's not that we're concerned that the rich won't be able to fend for themselves, because they will," Sen. Mike Lee said on Mike Huckabee's radio show Wednesday. "It's because we worry about the consequences that will inevitably result from that action and that will hit the poorest among us the hardest."
The White House counters that Obama is committed to growing the economy from the middle out.
"While the President is committed to working with Congress to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way, there is no reason to hold the middle-class families in Utah hostage while we debate tax cuts for the highest income earners," the White House said in a release.
-- Thomas Burr
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