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Obama presses for 'Buffett Rule' in Florida economic speech

President Obama pressed Congress to pass the "Buffett Rule," promoting his election-year message of tax fairness and economic equality during a speech Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University.

"It’s time for us to choose which direction we want to go in as a country. Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates — people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? That’s the choice," says Obama in the speech, according to excerpts released Tuesday. 

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The White House is billing Obama's address as an "official event on the economy." 

The Buffett Rule, named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, would raise the effective tax rate on investment income for the wealthiest taxpayers to at least 30 percent, according to the White House.

Obama, who is attending three campaign events in Florida, a swing state he carried in 2008, will reiterate his pitch that prosperity comes from a "strong and growing middle class" and call for investments in education, research and healthcare.

"America isn’t about a few people doing well. It’s about giving everyone the chance to do well," Obama says according to excerpts.

His trip to the Sunshine State comes just days before the Senate is expected to take a procedural vote on a Buffett Rule bill introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the presumptive Democratic nominee for Wisconsin’s open Senate seat, has rolled out the House version of the measure.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have almost universally ridiculed the Buffett Rule, and the legislation faces a steep climb in both chambers.

"This is yet another proposal from Democrats that won’t create a single job or lower the price at the pump by a penny, but may have the opposite effect,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement last week.

When asked how likely the Buffett Rule is to pass in Congress, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration understands it’s a "challenge" to persuade Republicans in the Senate.

"It may be an uphill battle, but it’s not an impossible battle — not because the president urges them to do so or even because Warren Buffett urges them to do, but because their own constituents are urging them to do so," Carney said Tuesday during a press briefing.

For more on Obama's Florida visit, click here.

—This event has concluded.

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