After a week in which lawmakers in Washington said there had been “no progress” on the “fiscal cliff” talks, President Obama reiterated for Republicans his stand on the gridlocked negotiations: No deal without higher taxes on high-income Americans.
In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, the president said his re-election on Nov. 6 settled the issue of whether Americans support higher tax rates.
“If we’re serious about reducing our deficit while still investing in things like education and research that are important to growing our economy — and if we’re serious about protecting middle-class families — then we’re also going to have to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates. That’s one principle I won’t compromise on,” he said.
“After all, this was a central question in the election,” the president said in the taped remarks.
As perhaps evidence of the ever-rising stakes in the ongoing fiscal showdown, the GOP response on Saturday came from Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican and potential 2016 contender who has assumed a prominent role as one of the national faces of the party in the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat.
“Tax increases will not solve our $16 trillion debt. Only economic growth and a reform of entitlement programs will help control the debt,” Mr. Rubio said. “We must reform our complicated, uncertain, job-killing tax code, by getting rid of unjustified loopholes. But our goal should be to generate new revenue by creating new taxpayers, not new taxes.”
Democrats, led by the president, and Republicans on Capitol Hill are struggling to come together on a compromise budget deal that would avert the “fiscal cliff” — the package of automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in January that economists say will trigger a national recesssion.
The president wants the deal to include higher tax rates on Americans earning $250,000 or more, while Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner, would prefer to raise revenue by closing tax loopholes and eliminating deductions.
On Friday, a frustrated Mr. Boehner told reporters, “This isn’t a progress report because there’s no progress to report.”