Obama wants tax breaks ended to pay for jobs plan

President Barack Obama has proposed paying for his jobs plan by eliminating $467bn (£294bn) in tax breaks for wealthier Americans and corporations, triggering a new battle with Republicans in Congress.

The White House objective is to put lawmakers in a difficult spot: either back Obama's jobs package or risk being portrayed as doing nothing to improve the US unemployment crisis heading into the November 2012 elections.

But the Democratic president's proposals to pay for his $447bn jobs plan will be hard for Republicans to swallow. They said the idea of taxing the wealthy and corporations was not in keeping with a bipartisan path he was seeking.

White House budget director Jack Lew said the biggest item in Obama's plan would raise $400bn by limiting deductions and exemptions on individuals who earn more than $200,000 per year and families who earn more than $250,000.

He also proposed raising $18bn by treating the earnings of investment fund managers as ordinary income rather than taxing it at lower capital gains rates.

He would eliminate many oil and gas industry tax breaks to raise $40bn and change corporate jet depreciation rules to bring in another $3bn.

Obama stepped up his campaign to sell his proposals to US voters as he prepares to send the jobs bill to lawmakers.

"This is a bill that is based on ideas from both Democrats and Republicans, and this is a bill that Congress needs to pass - no games, no politics, no delays," Obama said in an appearance in the White House Rose Garden, holding up a thick text of the legislation held together with a black clip.

The president, who pushed through an $800bn economic stimulus package in 2009, will see his re-election chances hinging heavily on his ability to reduce stubbornly high unemployment above nine per cent.

The bottom line for Republicans was that Obama is now trying to pay for his jobs plan entirely with tax increases.

"It would be fair to say this tax increase on job creators is the kind of proposal both parties have opposed in the past," said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress.

"We remain eager to work together on ways to support job growth but this proposal doesn't appear to have been offered in that bipartisan spirit."