President Obama just delivered a statement on the fiscal cliff negotiations, reiterating his demand that more tax revenue come from upper-income earners. But he didn’t specify whether he would be willing to take the revenue from reforms in the tax code rather than tax hikes, an idea House Speaker John Boehner has indicated he’s open to. The fact that Obama was vague on that point could be a sign he’s ready to compromise on his demand that the Bush tax cuts be repealed for the top tax bracket.
What Obama made very clear, however, is that he wants to shift the onus for action onto Congress (h/t Washington Examiner):
While Obama didn’t use the word “mandate,” his basic message was that the House Republicans are the only obstacle to a solution the American people favor. “A majority of Americans agree with my approach,” he said at one point. Boehner’s strategy has been the opposite, calling on President Obama to take the lead and compromise on tax hikes:
Speaker John Boehner again tried to shift responsibility for the looming fiscal cliff to President Barack Obama, saying expiring tax rates and trillions of dollars in spending cuts are mostly his to solve.
“This is an opportunity for the president to lead,” Boehner said Friday in the Capitol. “This is his moment to engage the Congress and work toward a solution that can pass both chambers.”
Boehner struck a part conciliatory, part aggressive tone but stayed vague on the next few months in what’s sure to be a tense Washington would look like.
Both are short on details, waiting instead for their meeting next week to lay out their demands. But from their statements so far, it seems like there may be room for common ground on tax revenue.
UPDATE: Strike that. Jay Carney just said in the White House briefing Obama will only accept a deal that repeals the Bush tax cuts for the top tax bracket. “If a bill were to reach his desk that extends tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent, he will not sign,” said Carney. “We cannot afford it.” Interestingly enough, Carney also said the president wants to both repeal the top-level Bush tax cuts and reform the tax code. If you’re going to get the extra revenue out of the tax code reform, why would you need to raise tax rates even further, unless your policy stance has more to do with a personal view of “fairness” than with closing the deficit?