White House calls class warfare charges ‘hyperventilation’

Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman speaks during a news conference in the press briefing room at the White House in Washington, December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

The White House had a simple message on Friday for very rich Americans complaining that President Barack Obama wants to wage class warfare: Stop your “hyperventilation.”

“Just take a look at facts,” Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters at a regular newsmaker breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.

Furman had been asked about Obama’s proposals for tackling income inequality in relation to charges of class warfare, including a venture capitalist’s recent headline-grabbing contention that criticism of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans was akin to the Nazi movement’s devastating 1938 attacks on Jewish businesses. (The financier later apologized).

“Some is just hyperventilation around not paying attention to specific facts and data,” Furman said. “No one here is talking about 100 percent tax rates, or 70 percent tax rates.”

Furman said Obama seeks to foster “equality of opportunity” not outcome and argued that effective tax rates on the top 1 percent of Americans is lower than it was in the mid-1990s.