Still optimistic the fiscal cliff crisis can be solved, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the issue is the Republicans’ failure to acknowledge that raising revenues must accompany spending cuts.
In his first interview since reelection, Obama told Bloomberg TV that the problem isn’t he not sitting down in a room with Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
“It’s not me being stubborn or partisan,” Obama said. “It’s a matter of math.”
Boehner and other House leaders sent a counterproposal to Obama on Monday, presenting their view on how to best avert the so-called fiscal cliff -- a series of federal cuts and tax hikes taking effect in 2013.
The GOP proposed a $2 trillion deficit reduction over 10 years without raising taxes. Instead, it's calling for $800 billion in deficit reduction through tax reform, unspecified deduction caps and loophole closures and major changes to entitlement programs.
“Unfortunately, the speaker’s proposal right now is still out of balance,” Obama said, adding that the top 2 percent, including himself, needs to start pay more in taxes.
“[We] need higher rates for the wealthiest Americans -- folks like me.”
Obama said the $300 billion to $400 billion that could come from closing loopholes isn’t enough. The president added that he’s willing to look at anything that will strengthen the system while ensuring social safety nets are there for the long haul.
He’s refusing to ask middle class income earners, seniors on Medicare and students to sacrifice while the wealthy isn’t ask to do the same.
“It’s not to punish success or go after wealthy folks,” Obama said. “It’s the simple proposition you can’t raise enough revenue [without taxing the wealthy].”
Obama is willing to give up $600 billion in spending cuts for $1.6 trillion in tax increases -- new revenue he hopes comes from those making more than $250,000 annually. He also asked House Republicans to signed a bill passed in the Senate to extend tax cuts for the middle class before the Dec. 31 fiscal cliff deadline. Without it, the typical American family may have to come up with more than $2,000 in taxes next year more than this year.
Boehner called the president’s proposal a “la-la land offer.”
But Obama calls it a “down payment” with the recognition that reform must be worked on later as comprehensive tax and entitlement reforms won’t happen in the next couple of weeks.