In a Tuesday press briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama is looking to build on the already approved $1.1 trillion in spending cuts.
“That approach enables us when taken as a whole to reduce our deficits by $4 trillion, begin to really get our fiscal house in order, and allow us to continue to invest in crucial areas of our economy that will help the economy grow in the near term and create jobs in the near term, but also build a foundation for economic growth in the future,” Carney said.
“And that's why the President views the issue of deficits and debt not in a vacuum,” he added. “He does not believe that reducing deficits and debt are values unto themselves. He believes that they are part of an approach that is driven by his number-one priority, which is economic growth and job creation.”
A failed agreement from Congress would mean that at the end of the year everyone’s taxes will increase. Coupled with the automatic spending cuts set to hit in January, it will be a double whammy for the U.S. economy, which could sink into another recession from it.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has already warned that without a plan to move forward, taxes will increase by more than $400 billion next year under current laws. The unemployment rate, currently at 7.9 percent, could shot up to 9.1 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013.
Republicans, who control the House majority, are not in favor of increasing taxes on the wealthy as part of the solution for curbing the nation’s $16 trillion deficit. Still, House Speaker John Boehner agrees that America’s deficit must be brought under control and said that 2013 is the year to get a grip on things.
Calling for the President to lead the way, Boehner is open to reducing the nation’s debt through tax and entitlement reform. But it's not clear yet whether Republicans are ready to follow him on the willingness to accept discussion on higher taxes.
On the other hand, Obama is looking for a more balanced approached that he said involves coupling spending cuts with bringing in new revenue. That’s why Obama wants single taxpayers who earn more than $200,000 a year and couples who have annual income exceeding $250,000 to pay more.
Carney said a balanced approach ensures the economy continues to grow, investments in education are still made, hiring continues, and America’s infrastructure is rebuilt.
“Because if you don’t you’ve lost sense of your overall purpose here, which is a vibrant American economy that enables Americans to find work, work that enables them to live a good life and send their kids to school and take care of their parents,” he said. “That’s the approach the President takes. It’s not a pinched view of deficits and debt; it’s a broad view of how we need to move forward with the economy.”
Prior to sitting at the table with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, the President is meeting with business and labor leaders to garner their support for the plan to move forward.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, on Tuesday told Fox News that the party is “ready to find common ground.” But his words did not sound very conciliatory: “When it comes to the great economic challenges of the moment, saying that you want a balanced approach is not a plan,” McConnell said. “The tedious repetition of poll-tested talking points is simply that and the longer the president uses them as a substitute for leadership, the more difficult it will be to solve our many problems.”