President Barack Obama jokingly called conservative icon Ronald Reagan "a socialist" on Wednesday as he worked to win Republican and Democratic support for a tax on millionaires.
Reagan, one of the most revered Republican presidents, also supported taxing the wealthiest Americans, Obama said.
"I'm not the first president to call for this idea that everybody has to do their fair share," said Obama, while defending his "Buffett Rule" that would impose a minimum 30% tax on annual incomes of over a million dollars.
"Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept," said Obama, who surrounded himself for the occasion with a group of millionaires -- who, like the billionaire Warren Buffett, support increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Buffett has publicly spoken out against being taxed at a lower rate than his secretary -- a consequence of tax loopholes imposed by former president George W. Bush under which investment revenues are taxed at a lower rate than wages.
Reagan once gave a speech "where he said it was 'crazy,' that's a quote, that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary," Obama said.
"That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan," Obama said. "He thought that in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share and he said so. I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days, but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we're calling for now," said Obama, who bidding for re-election on Nov. 6.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on Obama's so-called "Buffett Rule" on Monday.
While the fate of the legislation is uncertain as Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, oppose it, Obama's statements are likely aimed at his political opponent Mitt Romney, who is a multimillionaire.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012