President Obama said Friday that he would insist that tax increases on affluent Americans be part of any agreement to avoid a year-end fiscal crisis, setting up a possible confrontation with congressional Republicans who say they will oppose a rise in tax rates for the rich.
In his first remarks from the White House since his re-election, Obama made it clear that he believed his victory had validated his relentless campaign call for wealthier Americans to pay more and he expected Republicans to heed that message.
"I just want to point out this was a central question during the election," he said in brief remarks in the East Room. "It was debated over and over again. And on Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach."
Obama said he had invited congressional leaders to the White House next week to begin talks as they return for a lame-duck session of Congress. He said he was willing to make concessions as long as the final fiscal bargain was properly balanced between new tax revenue and spending cuts.
"I'm not wedded to every detail of my plan," Obama said. "I'm open to compromise."
At the same time, he encouraged Congress to quickly pass an extension of the existing lower rates for those making less than $250,000 even while the broader negotiations take place.
"While there may be disagreement in Congress over whether or not to raise taxes on folks making over $250,000 a year, nobody -- not Republicans, not Democrats -- want taxes to go up for folks making under $250,000 a year," he said. "So let's not wait."
The president's comments came shortly after House Speaker John Boehner, who had been striking a conciliatory tone since Republican election losses in the Senate and the House, told reporters that Republicans had won a mandate of their own by retaining control of the House and that he supported continuing rates enacted in the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels.
"Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want," said Boehner, who said he favored generating any new federal revenue to offset the deficit by closing tax loopholes and limiting deductions.
"It's clear that there are a lot of special interest loopholes in the tax code, both corporate and personal," he said.
The president and Boehner were careful with their language and left room for compromise despite their fundamental differences about shifting more of the tax burden to high-income Americans. Boehner would not be very specific on what his goal might be for raising new federal tax dollars.
Any agreement to avert a fiscal crisis in January, when hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in, now revolves around the definition of tax increases. Boehner is holding the line against any increase in tax rates, even for the richest Americans who are in the 35 percent tax bracket. But he is leaving open the possibility of a tax overhaul that raises more revenue than the existing code.
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Editor's Note: We're going to hear a lot about this so-called "mandate" coming from the Obama Administration on everything from taxes to environmental issues to gun laws, you name it. So, what is important to remember is that there is no mandate for anything. One, the election was too close in its results for there to exist a mandate about anything, including the election of Mr. Obama. He won, but because of low Conservative voter turnout (absolutely the Romney campaign's and the National GOP's fault). The only thing that Americans have mandated over the last four years is that they want special interest politics out of government, and that includes Mr. Obama's Progressive Agenda on the Left and Grover Norquist, in total, on the Right...Closing tax loopholes and leveling the taxing structure through comprehensive and radical tax reform -- which will benefit everyone including future generations -- will raise taxes on some because loopholes will cease to exist, but it will also broaden the tax base which will eliminate that "47%" issue and make more Americans responsible to the tax base...If we are ever to tackle tax and entitlement reform we must come to accept that a broadening of the respective structures -- while including more Americans -- will also cause some to go without the perks of loophole deductions. Really, it is just one more reason to support a flat tax or a FAIR Tax...And no this isn't "caving" to the Left...it's called looking out for the next generation because this generation has abused the credit card!!
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