- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 10, 2012

After sending signals this week that compromise was possible, both Barack Obama and John Boehner on Saturday reiterated their opposing positions on Saturday, with the president insisting on higher taxes on the wealthy and the Republican House speaker calling for tax code reform and overall lower tax rates.

President Obama, who has invited Mr. Boehner and other congressional leaders to join him in the White House next week to begin looking for a way to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” the series of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to kick in at the end of the year, said part of that solution will require higher taxes for those making more than $250,000.

“If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue – and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes,” the president said in his weekly Internet and radio address. “That’s how we did it when Bill Clinton was president. And that’s the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing — all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy.”

The president repeated his contention from a day earlier that the results of Tuesday’s election, in which the nation’s voters returned the Democratic incumbent to the White House and added more Democrats to the Senate and the House, constituted a mandate for “action.”

“On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: You voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours,” he said. “That’s why I’ve invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week, so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together.”

“This is even more important because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit – decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future,” he said.

Part of the “fiscal cliff” facing the U.S. economy involves the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an across-the-boards tax hike in 2013. The president urged Republicans to take action to avoid that scenario.

“We need a majority in Congress to listen – and they should start by making sure taxes don’t go up on the 98 percent of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on,” the president said.

Mr. Boehner has said tax increases will send the fragile American economy back into a double-dip recession.

“Instead of raising tax rates on the American people and accepting the damage it will do to our economy, let’s start to actually solve the problem. Let’s focus on tax reform that closes special interest loopholes and lowers tax rates,” the Ohio Republican said in the GOP’s weekly address.

“If there was a mandate in this election, it was a mandate to work together to do what’s in the best interest of our country,” the Republican leader said. “And right now, what’s best is getting our economy moving again and keeping it moving, so we can begin to restore our children’s future.”

Mr. Boehner and Republicans support extending the Bush tax cuts. The White House supports the extension on income under $250,000, but wants to see higher rates rise on income above that level.