President Barack Obama, laying down his marker for grueling “fiscal cliff” negotiations, said Friday he won’t accept any approach to federal deficit reduction that doesn’t ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes.
“This was a central question during the election,” Obama said in his first postelection comments on the economy. “The majority of Americans agree with my approach.”
Following up, Obama’s spokesman said later that the president would veto any legislation extending tax cuts for families making $250,000 or more.
The president, speaking in the White House East Room, said he wasn’t wedded to every detail of the plans he outlined during the election, adding, “I’m open to compromise.” But he offered no indication that he was willing to back down.
Republicans stood their ground. At the Capitol, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said he remains unwilling to raise tax rates on upper-income earners. But he left open the possibility of balancing spending cuts with new revenue that could be achieved by revising the tax code to lower rates but also eliminate some tax breaks.
Obama said he had invited congressional leaders of both parties to the White House next week for their first postelection negotiations. Their assignment: avert the “fiscal cliff” tax increases and automatic spending cuts due to hit in January. Both parties agree that those changes, the result of failed deficit-cut talks earlier this year, could send the economy back into recession.