U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday renewed his call for Congress to pass the so-called "Buffett Rule," which would raise income taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The president is highlighting his differences with leading Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in an appeal to middle class voters.
At a university in Florida, Obama said the growing financial divide between rich and middle class Americans needs to be addressed.
"What drags our entire economy down is when the benefits of economic growth and productivity go only to the few, which is what has been happening for over a decade now, and the gap between those at the very, very top and everybody else keeps growing wider and wider and wider and wider," said Obama.
The president again called on the Senate to pass what he calls the "Buffett Rule," named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has said that he pays too little in taxes, while middle class Americans pay too much.
The Democratic-led Senate is expected to vote on the bill in the coming days, but analysts say the legislation likely will not pass the Republican-led House of Representatives.
Republicans say the Buffett Rule would raise taxes on small businesses and discourage job creation. They also say it would do very little to shrink the government's huge budget deficit.
Obama is proposing that people who earn at least $1 million a year should pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.
At Florida Atlantic University, the president also campaigned for other parts of his economic plan, including government projects for education and infrastructure.
"They have not been made as some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another. This is not some socialist dream. They have been made by Democrats and Republicans for generations because they benefit all of us," he said.
A new Washington Post-ABC News public opinion poll shows that Obama leads likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney, 51 to 43 percent. But more than half of the voters surveyed say they disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy.
Obama is stressing middle class issues, to draw a contrast with the wealthy former Massachusetts governor.
Romney's path to the Republican Party nomination became clearer Tuesday, when his main rival, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, announced that he was suspending his campaign because his daughter suffers from a rare illness.
In addition to his speech at the university, the president attended three campaign fund-raising events in Florida.