By Amie Parnes - 04/11/12 03:27 PM EDT
President Obama says he's willing to change the name of the proposed "Buffett Rule" to the "Reagan Rule" if it will sway Republicans to "get on board" with the rest of the country.
For the second day in a row, Obama sought to convince critics that the wealthiest Americans should pay their fair share in taxes. He said the Buffett Rule — named after billionaire Warren Buffett — is more than just a "gimmick" and that former President Reagan would have supported it.
Obama and Democrats have put most of their muscle this week into a public relations push for the Buffett Rule, just as Mitt Romney has become the presumptive GOP nominee for president.
Romney's campaign on Tuesday argued Obama is trying to distract voters from his failed economic policies by pushing for higher taxes on the rich. Romney surrogates and other Republicans have accused the president of playing class warfare, and have argued Obama's politics are raising the deficit.
Responding to critics who say the rule "won't do enough to close the deficit," Obama said, "Well, I agree.
"That's not all we have to do to close the deficit," Obama continued. "But the notion that it doesn't solve the entire problem doesn't mean we shouldn't do it all."
"There are enough excuses for inaction in Washington. We certainly don't need more excuses," he said. "The Buffett Rule is something that will get us moving in the right direction, towards fairness, towards economic growth."
He said the middle class "has seen enough of its security erode in the last few decades."
In his brief speech before a crowd of executives and their assistants, held days before the Senate is set to vote on the rule, Obama took aim at Republicans while addressing his critics, saying, "this is not simply an issue of redistributing wealth.
"If Republicans in Congress were truly concerned with deficits and debt, then I'm assuming they wouldn't have just proposed to spend an additional $4.6 trillion on lower tax rates including an average tax cut of at least $150,000 for every millionaire in America," Obama said. "They want to go in the opposite direction. They want to double down on some of the inequities that already exist in the tax law."
Taking it a step farther, Obama quipped that his position might disqualify him from the GOP primary.
"Most Americans agree with me. So do most millionaires," he said.
On Tuesday, Obama appeared in Florida to crank up his populist pitch on the issue as Tax Day looms and Americans continue to struggle in a tough economy.
In his speech on Wednesday, Obama sought to relate to middle-class Americans once again.
"In America, prosperity has never trickled down from a wealthy few," he said. "Prosperity has always been built from the bottom up, from the heart of the middle class ... outward," he said.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama was serious about his claim to rename the principle the "Reagan rule."
"If Congress would pass it we would rename if the Reagan rule tomorrow," Carney said, adding that Buffett "would understand."
The former president's name surfaced repeatedly during the briefing with Carney.
Carney said the very principle that a CEO "should not pay income tax at a lower rate than his or her secretary.
"This is a specific example that Ronald Reagan himself cited," the spokesman said.
"It's another example of the distance the Republican party has traveled," he said.
"Is Ronald Reagan wrong?" Carney added.
This story was updated at 1:24 p.m.