President Obama spoke at a toy factory in Pennsylvania Friday as part of his tour to gain public support(WaPo) in the negotiations over the fiscal cliff, where he emphasized his demand that Congress extend the middle-class tax cuts immediately even if an agreement other parts of the budget take longer to hammer out.
In his speech, he said:
Even the top 2 percent, even folks who make more than $250,000, they’d still keep their tax cut on the first $250,000 of income. So it would still be better off for them, too, for us to go ahead and get that done. Families would have a sense of security going into the new year. Companies like this one would know what to expect in terms of planning for next year and the year after. That means people’s jobs would be secure.
The sooner Congress gets this done, the sooner our economy will get a boost. And it would then give us in Washington more time to work together on that long-range plan to bring down deficits in a balanced way: Tax reform, working on entitlements, and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we can keep investing in things like education and research that make us strong.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded to Obama’s remarks in a press conference, where he placed the blame for stalled negotiations on the White House:
During the campaign, the president pledged to the American people that he would seek a balanced approach to addressing the debt – a combination of new revenues and spending cuts. So the day after the election, I said the Republican majority would accept new revenue as part of a balanced approach that includes real spending cuts and reforms. Now the White House took three weeks to respond with any kind of a proposal, and much to my disappointment, it wasn’t a serious one.
Still, I’m willing to move forward in good faith. Our original framework still stands.
Instead of raising tax rates, we can produce a similar amount of revenue [by] reforming the tax code to close loopholes and lower tax rates. That’s far better for the economy, and the American people actually favor that approach by two-to-one. They favor it even more when we can also show them that real spending cuts will, in fact, reduce the deficit.
President Obama put forward the first offer of the fiscal cliff negotiations Thursday in a plan that includes “$1.6 trillion in tax increases, additional stimulus spending, and a request to permanently raise the government’s debt borrowing limit” as well as $400 billion in Medicare savings over the next decade, reports Real Clear Politics. Republicans criticized the proposal and House Speaker John Boehner said that “no substantial progress has been made.”
But Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen write in Politico that, behind the scenes, there is progress being made:
Cut through the fog, and here’s what to expect: Taxes will go up just shy of $1.2 trillion — the middle ground of what President Barack Obama wants and what Republicans say they could stomach. Entitlement programs, mainly Medicare, will be cut by no less than $400 billion — and perhaps a lot more, to get Republicans to swallow those tax hikes. There will be at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and “war savings.” And any final deal will come not by a group effort but in a private deal between two men: Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri