Addressing the looming fiscal cliff, President Obama said Friday that while he’s not “wedded” to every detail of the plan he put forward previously to reduce the nation’s deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade, he will not compromise when it comes to making sure the wealthy pay their fair share.
Noting the “urgency” of acting by year end, Obama said that the nation faces “a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay our deficit down—decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, both now and in the future.”
Pointing out that he worked last year with both “Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending that we just couldn’t afford,” Obama said he “intends to work with both parties to do more—and that includes making reforms that will bring down the cost of health care so we can strengthen programs like Medicaid and Medicare for the long haul.”
House Speaker John Boehner commented Friday morning just before Obama’s speech that “this is an opportunity for the president to lead. This is his moment to engage the Congress and work towards a solution that can pass both chambers.”
Shortly after Obama was re-elected Boehner said “we’re ready to be led.” But just how far Republicans will follow Obama’s lead remains uncertain.
In his Friday afternoon speech, Obama echoed comments he made previously that “we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. 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. That’s how we did it in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president.”
Obama said that while he’s “open to compromise” to solve the nation’s fiscal crisis, “I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I’m not going to do that.”