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Clinton breaks with Obama on extending Bush-era tax rates

Former President Clinton broke with President Obama over the Bush-era tax rates, saying he has “no problem” with extending them temporarily.

“I don't have any problem with extending all of it now, including the current spending level,” Clinton told CNBC Tuesday according to a transcript from a taped interview for "Closing Bell."

Obama only wants to extend the tax rate for middle-class taxpayers — and not for the wealthy — when the rates expire on Jan. 1. 

Clinton, however, said all the rates should not be extended permanently.

“The real issue is whether the price the Republican House will put on that extension is the permanent extension of the tax cuts, which I think is an error,” he said, according to the transcript.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has pressed to extend the tax rates immediately, before the November election, but has said the decision over whether to act to make the extension permanent or temporary has not been made.

Clinton said it would probably be “best” to push the extension through early next year.

“But the Republicans don't want to do that unless [Obama] agrees to extend the tax cuts permanently, including for upper-income people,” he said. “And I don't think the president should do that.”

Republicans quickly blasted out Clinton’s remarks as him breaking with Obama.

“Agree [with] former President Clinton,” Boehner tweeted. “Raising taxes next year would be bad for [for] jobs.”

But Clinton did not entirely side with Republicans in the interview.

"What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what's necessary in the long term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election," Clinton said.

“But what I think the president is right about is not wanting to make any commitments that will constrain our ability to have a long-term debt reduction plan," he continued, "because two years from now, three years from now, five years from now, we need to be bringing this deficit down when the economy grows because then you'll have the private markets needing capital.”

The remarks from the former president come as he's increased his presence on the campaign trail. He appeared with Obama a series of fundraisers in New York City Monday night, as well as campaigned for Democrats trying to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and had to clarify comments that he made praising Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital.

— This story was updated at 6:08 p.m.

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