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Obama Pressing Business and Labor on Fiscal Cliff PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Thomas   
Thursday, 15 November 2012 08:05

WASHINGTON — In a challenge to Republicans, President Barack Obama has urged Congress to extend expiring tax cuts immediately for all but the highest income earners as a way to eliminate half of the socalled fiscal cliff that threatens to send the economy back into recession.

WWhat I'm not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can't afford and according to economists will have the least positive impact on the economy," the president said Wednesday, Nov. 14, at his first news conference since winning re-election.

Standing in the East Room of the White House, Obama pointedly noted he had campaigned on a platform that called for allowing tax breaks to expire as scheduled on Dec. 31 for the wealthiest income earners. "A modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs," Obama said.

"They'll still be wealthy." House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell have both said they are eager to compromise with the president to avoid the immediate tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the end of the year. But at the same time, they have said they won't agree to raise tax rates for the wealthy.

Boehner arranged a late afternoon news conference in the Capitol to respond to the president's remarks. The congressional leaders are slated to meet with Obama at the White House on Friday, Nov. 16, for the first time since the election, and are expected to agree to designate aides to begin the search for a compromise.

Obama met with allies from labor and liberal groups on Nov. 13, and invited a group of CEOs to the White House for a mid-afternoon session, also to focus on the threat posed to the economic recovery by the combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

At the news conference, he laid out a two-step process for an overall compromise — immediate extension of all the expiring tax cuts except the top rate, followed by a comprehensive agreement in 2013 to overhaul the tax code and the government's big benefits programs, which include Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Obama signed legislation two years ago extending the Bush tax cuts in their entirety after saying he wouldn't.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 08:07