Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod on Sunday defended the president’s attacks on the House Republican budget and push for the “Buffet rule” as the general election campaign gets underway.

In a “Fox News Sunday" interview, Axelrod hit Republicans for trying to lower taxes for the wealthy, cutting Medicaid and not offering tax offsets.


“This is not the direction our country should go, so of course we’re going to critique that,” Axelrod said. “That’s part of the process and it’s a legitimate one.”

Host Chris Wallace pressed Axelrod on the Buffet rule, comparing the $47 billion in deficit reduction to the overall level of U.S. debt.

Axelrod said that the Buffet rule was one of many elements of the president’s plan to lower the deficit, and he defended its importance.

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“I remember when $47 billion seemed like a lot of money. It is a lot of money,” Axelrod said. “When you eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, that adds another $800 billion. This is a piece of a larger pile.”

Axelrod argued that likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney was calling for cuts to Planned Parenthood and foreign aid, and his campaign couldn’t have it both ways if those were only smaller-ticket items as well.

The Buffett Rule proposal, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, states that those making seven figures a year should pay a higher tax rate than middle-class families. But Republicans have criticized the proposal, saying it promotes “class warfare”.

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Obama’s campaign has also sought to make an issue of Romney's tax returns, repeatedly criticizing him for his effective tax rate of 14 percent, using his as an example of their argument that the wealthiest need to contribute more in taxes.

President Obama released his tax returns this week, which showed he paid a 20 percent tax rate on income.

Wallace asked Axelrod about the campaign rhetoric that Warren Buffet’s tax rate is lower than his secretary’s, when it also emerged this week that Obama’s rate is lower than his secretary.

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Axelrod acknowledged that was true, but argued that Obama wanted to change the system to make his rate higher, while Romney’s plan would lower it.

“Gov. Romney would have him pay a lower tax rate in the future,” Axelrod said of Obama’s taxes. “We’re arguing for a system that is fair. He’s arguing for a system that exacerbates great gaps in our system today.”

A Senate vote on the Buffett Rule is scheduled for Monday.