Obama calls bipartisan meeting on 'fiscal cliff,' digs in on tax hike
Obama, in first remarks from White House since reelection, says he will compromise with Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff, but won't agree to a plan that doesn't raise taxes on wealthiest Americans.
(Page 2 of 2)
In his remarks, Obama did not use the word “mandate,” but he nevertheless suggested he had one from the election results.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Inside President Obama's White House
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“On Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach,” Obama said. “And that includes Democrats, independents, and a lot of Republicans across the country, as well as independent economists and budget experts. That's how you reduce the deficit, with a balanced approach.”
Boehner has maintained that his party, too, has a mandate, as Americans returned a Republican majority to the House. (In the Senate, however, the Democrats gained seats and are expected to have a 55-to-45 majority.)
Still, in the wake of a bruising election campaign, both men sounded conciliatory in the runup to the lame-duck session of Congress that will deal with the fiscal-cliff issues. Until the next Congress is seated in January, current members who are retiring or have been voted out will have their final moments in power. Typically, lame-duck sessions don’t accomplish much, though there have been exceptions. Two years ago, the lame-duck Congress voted to repeal the ban on open service by gays in the military.
Some Democratic strategists have suggested that the Democrats allow all the tax cuts to expire, then introduce legislation in the new Congress to lower rates for all except the top 2 percent of taxpayers. Republicans would be caught in a bind of either rejecting tax cuts for most Americans or approving a tax rate reduction that excludes the wealthiest Americans.
Republicans say that effectively raising taxes on the top taxpayers would harm small businesses – the engine of job growth – as many file their taxes as individuals.
“The problem with raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans is that more than half of them are small-business owners,” Boehner said Friday, referring to a study by the accounting firm Ernst & Young indicating 700,000 jobs would be lost if the Bush tax cuts expire. “We also know that it would slow down our economy.”
Obama rejected that argument, saying that taxes would not be raised on 97 percent of small-business owners.
“While I appreciate and share the president’s desire to put the election behind us, the fact is we still have yet to hear an actual plan from the president for addressing the great economic challenges we face,” Senator McConnell said. “What’s needed now is a realistic and specific proposal from the president that can actually pass the Congress."
RECOMMENDED: Election 2012: 12 reasons Obama won and Romney lost