WASHINGTON—In his first official address to the nation following his re-election, President Obama called on Congressional leaders to work with him to resolve America’s debt crisis, saying he was willing to compromise—but only so far.
“I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced,” he said.
Speaking from the East Room in the White House and flanked by a selection of middle class voters, Obama noted the urgency of finding a solution to America’s debt crisis.
“We face 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,” he said.
He said he had proposed a plan, the plan he campaigned on, to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over a decade, but said he was not “wedded” to his way.
“I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas. I’m committed to solving our fiscal challenges,” he said.
He drew a line, however, at shielding the wealthy from tax hikes, the very issue on which House Republicans remain dogged.
“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, “ he said.
House Speaker, John Boehner, issued a statement earlier in the day Friday saying House members were also keen to “avert the fiscal cliff,” but stressed they expected the strategy to involve “entitlement reform as well as tax reform with lower tax rates.”
The President however was equally adamant saying “we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.”
“We have to combine spending cuts with revenue and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes,” he said.
The American people, in electing him, had chosen his plan, over Republicans’, he said. “It’s a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.”
In a press conference Wednesday, Boehner dismissed the idea that Obama could claim a mandate saying, “With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.”
Obama challenged Congress to at least agree to extend Bush era tax cuts for the middle-class, something both parties already agreed to do.
“We shouldn’t need long negotiations or drama to solve that part of the problem…So let’s not wait. Even as we’re negotiating a broader deficit reduction package, let’s extend the middle-class tax cuts right now,” he said.
Obama said he believed the American people want to see cooperation, but “most of all.. action.”
“I intend to deliver for them in my second term, and I expect to find willing partners in both parties to make that happen,” he concluded.
The President has not only invited Congressional leaders to the White House next week to work out solutions, but also business, labor, and local leaders.
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