Political Headlines December 19, 2012: President Barack Obama at Press Conference Urges GOP to ‘Take The Deal’ & Avoid Fiscal Cliff

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Urges GOP to ‘Take The Deal’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-19-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images

With just 12 days until tax increases and steep spending cuts kick in, President Obama on Wednesday urged Republicans to “peel off the partisan war paint” and compromise on a deal to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff.”

Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama told House Republicans to “take the deal” and said it was puzzling that they have not accepted what he described as a “fair” offer.

“They will be able to claim that they have worked with me over the last two years to reduce the deficit more than any other deficit reduction package, that we will have stabilized it for 10 years. That is a significant achievement for them. They should be proud of it. But they keep on finding ways to say no, as opposed to finding ways to say yes,” he said….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 18, 2012: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney on Possible Fiscal Cliff Deal Between President Barack Obama & Speaker John Boehner & Gun-Control Legislation

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 12/18/2012

Source: WH, 12-18-12

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:48 P.M. EST

MR. CARNEY:  Okay.  Welcome to the White House.  I have no announcements.  I am here to answer your questions.

Mr. Feller.

Q    Thanks, Jay.  A lot to cover on the fiscal cliff.  I just want to focus on the tax rates portion.  During the election, repeatedly, and then after the election in his first extended comments the President underscored again his central promise to the American people that tax rates have to go up on households making over $250,000.  In the East Room he said, I’m not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the deficit while people like me making over $200,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.  Now the White House proposal is in fact to let people making up to $400,000 go without a tax increase.  How do you justify that broken promise?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I certainly wouldn’t put it that way.  I would say that the President, demonstrating –

Q    You wouldn’t call it a broken promise?

MR. CARNEY:  — his desire — no, I would not.  I would say that the President, demonstrating his belief that a balanced, large deficit reduction package is a worthwhile goal, has shown evident willingness to meet the Republicans halfway.

If you think about where he started, his initial proposal from his plan that he put forward to the so-called super committee was to achieve a goal of $1.6 trillion in revenue.  He has now come down to $1.2 trillion, as you know.  The Republicans started at $800 trillion and have moved up to $1 trillion.  The President has come halfway.  He hopes that the Republicans will do the same.  That is the essence of compromise, coming halfway.

On revenue, the President has come more than halfway in an effort to try to reach an agreement with the Republicans in the House and broadly in Congress because it’s the right thing to do. But he will not accept a deal that, in order to protect some of the wealthiest Americans from having their taxes go up, shifts the burden unduly onto seniors and the middle class.

So the fact that he’s willing to compromise and have rates go up on those making $400,000 and above, as opposed to $250,000 and above, demonstrates his good-faith effort here to reach a compromise and still have a package that is balanced and asks the wealthiest to pay more, enacts significant spending cuts, and puts us on a fiscally sustainable path.

I mean, the alternative here, if you think about it and the so-called plan B makes no sense.  There is an historic opportunity here to do something that has been set as a goal for a long time in Washington, which is reach a bipartisan compromise on significant deficit reduction on the order of $4 trillion when you take all the pieces of it and put them together.

We are very close to being able to achieve that, and the President has demonstrated an obvious willingness to compromise and to move more than halfway towards the Republicans.  To leave that offer on the table, including the trillion — the $1.22 trillion in spending cuts that the President has put forward because you don’t want to ask someone making $950,000 a year to pay more in taxes would be a shame and it would be bad policy.

So the President believes that the opportunity is there, the parameters of a deal are clear, the path to a compromise is clear, and he hopes that the Republicans will meet him on that path and do something that would be very good for the American people, for the middle class, and for our economy.

Q    Jay, there’s another alternative here, and we’re hearing some of the members of the President’s party say today, which is that for the entire campaign he talked about raising taxes on the top 2 percent.  He said that was the central theme and it was adjudicated in the election.  And you talked about it standing here yesterday, the top 2 percent.  If you go to $400,000, you’re not the top 2 percent, you’re not even the top 1 percent.  It’s less than that.  So isn’t the alternative for him to craft a deal in which he stands by his principle and sticks by his promise?

MR. CARNEY:  The President does have — did have a proposal that we have put forward that achieves that, and in an effort to meet the Republicans halfway he has put forward a proposal that still asks the wealthiest Americans, those, in this case, making over $400,000, to pay more in income taxes.  His overall proposal, by the way, includes other pieces, elements to it to achieve the revenue goal of $1.2 trillion, that includes asking the wealthiest to pay more through cap deductions and other reforms.

But the point I’m making I think is consistent with your question, which is, yes, he has demonstrated a willingness to move towards the Republicans in order to achieve a deal, but do so in a way that maintains his principles.  And the alternative, the fallback, so-called plan B that’s been put out there achieves nothing like what a bigger deal would do and it would — you would lose, by just cutting taxes — by just extending current law for those making under a million dollars, you would lose hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue relative to the decoupling the President has proposed.

And most of that money, or a significant portion of that money if not most, would go to millionaires, because everybody gets — when you extend tax cuts for those making under $250,000 or those making under $400,000, everybody who makes more than that benefits from those tax cuts, right?  If you only extend — if you extend the tax cuts for everybody making up to a million dollars, that means everybody making more than that gets a significant tax cut on their first million dollars in earning.  So millionaires, billionaires, everybody makes a lot of money out of this proposal.

So the proposal essentially is to give another big tax cut to the wealthiest Americans at a time when we cannot afford it.  And that, as you saw in my statement, would not pass the Senate. You saw Leader Pelosi say that Democrats would not vote for it.  It’s not a credible alternative.  If we’re not going to do a grand bargain, a bigger deal, the one that the President seeks, then there’s an option to deal with the tax portion of this that has already passed the Senate that the House ought to take up.  And he would certainly support that as he has said all along.

Q    Last one on this and I’ll let somebody else have a run at this.  You keep making it sound like the choice is between what the President proposed and plan B that Speaker did, but I keep going back to what he said before he was elected and he called the central promise, which was never $250,000 until I win, and then we’ll see what they offer and move the number up.  It was $250,000 –

MR. CARNEY:  But, Ben, I don’t — if you’re making the point that he has –

Q    My point is, can’t — is it the President’s view that he can’t get a big deal unless he goes up?

MR. CARNEY:  I think that’s clear that the Republicans — that this requires compromise, and that’s why we have moved and reduced our revenue target and moved from $250,000 to $400,000.

The point that the President had always made is that it is not his preferred option, but he knew that he would have to compromise in order to reach an agreement without sacrificing the principles that are clear, and that is that we have to have balance.  It has to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay more so that the burden isn’t unduly placed on seniors and students and families who have children with disabilities and others.  And that’s what his current proposal maintains are those principles.
And all told, as you know, the proposal still, with its one-to-one — within this proposal, one-to-one ration of revenues to spending cuts, achieves, combined with the $1.1 trillion that he signed into law in discretionary spending cuts last year, close to $4 trillion in deficit reduction.

And if I could go back to the first point here — Republicans say their goal is to reduce the deficit and to reduce spending.  There is an opportunity on the table here to achieve $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts.  It seems like folly to walk away from that opportunity because you don’t want to ask somebody making $995,000 a year to pay a dime more in income taxes.  It seems like terrible folly.  And I don’t think the American people would support that.  Certainly the President doesn’t believe that.

Did you have something?

Q    I did.

MR. CARNEY:  It seemed like all your questions had been answered.

Q    They haven’t.

MR. CARNEY:  Okay.

Q    My first question is, are negotiations still active?

MR. CARNEY:  Lines of communication remain open.  The President continues to hope that a compromise can be reached, as I said at the top.  The parameters of a deal are clear.  When you look at the offers, proposals and the counterproposals, a path to an agreement is clear.  And he hopes that the Republicans will join him on that path and achieve this — take advantage of this opportunity and lock in a plan that would achieve significant deficit reduction, would protect the middle class, and would help our economy.  So the answer is lines of communication remain open and we hope that this opportunity is not wasted.

Q    You used that phrase a lot last week.

MR. CARNEY:  And it was always true.

Q    Right, but does that mean you’re talking and negotiations –

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have any specific conversations or meetings to read out to you.  But as was the case in the past, it is the case today that lines of communication remain open and there is an opportunity here.  And you’ve clearly seen the President put forward an offer that represents him moving halfway towards the Republicans on revenue and moving more than halfway to the Republicans on spending cuts as part of a balanced package that still adheres to his principles.  And that’s very important. And we hope that the Republicans understand that it would be a terrible waste to walk away from this opportunity.

Q    We’ve seen some, obviously, progress since yesterday’s briefing; I’d just like to ask the question again:  Has the shooting in Connecticut affected the tone at all, and has it affected the ability for both sides to negotiate?

MR. CARNEY:  These are excellent questions and there’s been some good reporting on this, but it’s obviously hard to know what the impact of an event like that is on the way that lawmakers and others in Washington approach other issues.  As the President said in Newtown, a tragedy as unfathomable, unimaginable as what happened in Newtown reminds us of what really matters.  And he certainly believes that it is his responsibility — and the responsibility of everyone here in Washington — to work together to try to do important things for the American people and the American economy.  And that’s on issues related to gun violence and it’s on issues related to the economy and to people’s livelihoods.

So to the extent that an event like that, as tragic as it is, brings us a little closer together both in the nation and in Washington, that would be a good thing.  But it’s hard to measure an impact like that.

Q    Jay, as an Illinois state legislator, the President supported quite restrictive gun measures, but as President he’s only signed into law legislation that allows guns in National Parks and on Amtrak trains as checked luggage.  Is he reassessing his more recent record on gun control?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President’s positions have been beyond what you cited — I’m sure that was an oversight — but including his support for reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, his support –

Q    But actions versus words –

MR. CARNEY:  — his support for closing the so-called gun show loophole, which allows people to buy weapons without going through the background checks that are standard when you purchase from a retail –

Q    But I’m talking about what was actually done –

MR. CARNEY:  Let me — could I finish?

Q    — not just what he has said he supports.

MR. CARNEY:  Could I finish?  Could I finish, Brianna?  I appreciate it.  Thanks.

It’s clear that as a nation we haven’t done enough to address the scourge of gun violence in this country.  It’s a complex problem that requires more than one solution.  It calls for not only reexamining our gun laws and how well we enforce them, but also for engaging mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, parents and communities to find those solutions.

And while, as I said, there’s no one answer to this problem, it is clear that we cannot once again retreat to our separate corners and to our stale talking points, because that inevitably leads to an impasse.  That’s why, as I think you saw reported, the President yesterday afternoon had discussions with members of his Cabinet, members of his senior staff and the Vice President to begin looking for ways — or at ways that the country can move forward and respond to the tragedy in Newtown.  And I think that if you look at the Cabinet members the President met with — Secretary Duncan, Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius — they underscore — their participation underscores the comprehensive way in which the President views this problem.

So he will, as he said in Newtown on Sunday night, two nights ago, in coming weeks, engage with the American people; engage with lawmakers, with members of his administration, with mental health professionals, with law enforcement officials, with parents, communities, to try to find answers to this problem.  And that includes his support for legislation that, like the assault weapons ban, that addresses issues of access to guns.  It will include other issues that he thinks are part of the scourge of gun violence.

Q    But is he right now actively considering measures, be it gun laws or mental health measures — right now?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he is actively supportive of, for example, Senator Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban.  He supports, and would support, legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun show loophole.  And there are other elements of gun law — gun legislation that he could support.  People have talked about high-capacity gun — ammunition clips, for example, and that is something certainly that he would be interested in looking at.  My point is that it goes beyond that.

He is heartened, I should mention, by what we have all heard from some members of Congress who have been long-time opponents of gun control measures, common-sense gun control measures like the assault weapons ban and the like.  He, in fact, not long before I came out here was on the phone with Senator Manchin discussing just this issue.

Q    So this sounds like very much a shift from yesterday.  I mean, there were really no specifics yesterday, and today you’re talking about his support for Senator Feinstein’s reinstatement.  You were –

MR. CARNEY:  Brianna, I think I said yesterday that he supported –

Q    Yesterday you were talking about his support for the ban, but you wouldn’t actually say whether he would support Senator Feinstein’s effort.  And today it sounds like you’re saying that he will.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me be clear that, again, we are less than 48 hours from the President’s participation in the vigil.

Q    But he supports her legislation initiatives?

MR. CARNEY:  And the President is moving forward, as he said he would, in having discussions here at the White House with members of his team, having discussions moments ago with Senator Manchin and others who have introduced important ideas about how we can move forward and whose decision to break from past positions and — in how they look at this is heartening, and perhaps harbors an opportunity to move forward in a constructive way.  But we are still early in a process.

And I just want to be clear that, in addition to his support for a renewal of the assault weapons ban, which has long been stated and if it does take form in legislation that Senator Feinstein introduces, then that would obviously be something that would win his support, but it goes beyond that.  His view is that we need to address this in a way that, as I said yesterday, acknowledges that no single piece of legislation, no single restriction on access to a certain type of weapon will solve this problem and that we need to address it more broadly.

Q    Sure, but why the change?  Because — I mean, he hadn’t even said “gun” in his public comments.  And then you have, for instance, Republicans like Steve LaTourette talking about a majority of Republicans — this is what he told us today — being open to discussing gun control.  Did the President feel like he was behind on this?

MR. CARNEY:  I think you’re trying to turn this into, like, a political theater thing.  That’s not how the President views it.  He went to Newtown in his role as President and met with family members of victims.  He met with first responders and with others in that community, and then he spoke to that community, and tried to convey the grief and the pain that the American people are feeling and share with those who are suffering so deeply in Connecticut.

And at that time he spoke about the fact that we cannot tolerate these kinds of tragedies and that we have to act, and it would be unforgivable not to try to take steps that address the problem, that address our fundamental responsibility to take care of our children in the first instance.  And he is, as he said and true to his word, moving forward on that process.  And the conversation he had — the meeting he had yesterday, the conversation I just mentioned with the Senator from West Virginia and other conversations he will have going forward will reflect the approach that he’s taking.

He does want to move.  As he said on Sunday night, he wants to move in the coming weeks, which is a fairly short period of time.  And while he supports, and strongly, renewal of the assault weapons ban, and strongly other measures, he wants to expand the conversation beyond those specific areas of legislation to look at other ways we can address this problem.

Let me move in the back.  Sam.

Q    Yes, Jay, a lot of top Democrats on the Hill, and I think President Obama, spent the campaign season saying, let’s not touch Social Security — it doesn’t add to the deficit; we can resolve this issue without going to that entitlement program. What is the President’s message to those lawmakers who promised constituents that Social Security would not be touched after the President now has put chain CPI on the table for Republicans?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, let’s be clear about one thing:  The President didn’t put it on the table.  This is something that Republicans want.  And it is –

Q    But the Republicans –

MR. CARNEY:  — part of his — if I could please answer Sam’s question, I’d appreciate it.  And the President did include it in his counterproposal, his counteroffer, as part of this process, as part of the negotiation process.  I would note that this is a technical change — would be if instated — to the way that economists calculate inflation, and it would affect every program that has — that uses the CPI in its calculations.  And so it’s not directed at one particular program; it would affect every program that uses CPI.  There are also — as part of the President’s proposals, he would make sure that the most vulnerable were exempted out from this change.

But let’s be clear, this is something that the Republicans have asked for, and as part of an effort to find common ground with the Republicans, the President has agreed to put this in his proposal — agreed to have this as part of a broad deficit reduction package that includes asking the wealthiest to pay more so that we can achieve the kind of revenue targets that are necessary for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Q    Right, but there’s a lot — again, my question was there’s a lot of people who voted for these lawmakers on a promise that –

MR. CARNEY:  You heard the President say every time he talked about this –

Q    Can I finish my question?

MR. CARNEY:  Sure, yes.

Q    A lot of people — I’ll let you answer — a lot of people voted for these lawmakers for reelection not too long ago on a promise that Social Security wouldn’t be touched, and if it was touched, it would be done separately from these fiscal cliff negotiations.  What do those people — what are these people now supposed to believe about the promises that their lawmakers made, including the President?

MR. CARNEY:  Let me again make clear two things.  One, the President has always said as part of this process when we’re talking about the spending cuts side of this that it would require tough choices by both sides.  And that is certainly the case if you want to reach an agreement.

Secondly, this is a technical adjustment that supporters of it and economists — outside economists say is meant to make the government’s estimates of inflation more accurate.  Thirdly, as part of the President’s proposal, there is a clause that would protect vulnerable communities including the very elderly when it comes to Social Security recipients.

So there’s no question that it represents an effort to compromise, but it is also not — this is a technical adjustment that economists believe is about getting the proper measure of inflation, and it is one sought by Republicans.

So, again, we’re not going to get everything we want.  We knew that the President’s proposal that he put forward to the super committee that we put forward in the beginning of these negotiations would not pass unchanged.  But I think your question demonstrates the absolute fact that the President has shown enormous good faith in trying to reach a compromise here.  And it would be shocking if Republicans passed up this opportunity for what they say they seek, which is significant deficit reduction, significant spending cuts, simply to protect those just shy of being millionaires from having to pay a dime extra in income taxes.

Chuck.

Q    Do you acknowledge the Speaker’s criticism of the counterproposal yesterday that it really isn’t one to one –

MR. CARNEY:  I do not.

Q    — because the saved interest payment is not a spending cut?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I find that an interesting charge because every budget proposal that’s been made since we’ve been here includes interest payments as spending cuts when they’re reduced. The Bowles-Simpson proposal included it.

Q    Well, nobody disputes that it’s part of deficit reduction, but this idea of one to one on tax hikes to a spending cut –

MR. CARNEY:  Again, when they — in the Budget Control Act and their assertions that they wanted one to one, it was only achievable — only achievable — because they counted saved interest as spending cut.  So a practice that they participated in regularly up until this moment to abandon now, to say that it doesn’t represent one-to-one spending cuts for revenue, is just  — doesn’t pass the plausibility test.

The fact is that spending on interest payments is one of the big problems that we face when it comes to our budget deficits, and reducing those payments is a significant achievement when it comes to reducing spending.  So including those reductions as part of the overall reductions in spending is in keeping with past practice by both Republicans and Democrats, including the Speaker of the House, including House Republican leadership, past practice as represented in the Simpson-Bowles proposal and other proposals that have been out there.

So I do reject that charge that somehow that this is a novelty that doesn’t represent actual savings, because that has always been the practice, including by the Republicans who are now complaining about it.

Q    So at 10 o’clock this morning, 9 o’clock this morning, the markets open; they all see the different proposals the President has given on the CPI and Social Security, Boehner’s given on tax rates over a million dollars.  And the public up on Wall Street and the business community sees — oh, look, they’re about to come to a deal.  Boehner puts out his plan B, and you guys decide to publicly go after it.  Why?  Why antagonize the situation?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, what the Speaker –

Q    I’m just curious.  You guys — on one hand, you don’t want to negotiate through the press; this clearly is a decision to negotiate through the press.

MR. CARNEY:  No.  The Speaker also made clear that he has not abandoned hope for a bigger deal, and that we see as a good thing.  And we certainly have not either.  And I think our objections to plan B is simply to point that it is such a far cry from what’s possible here — and not only that, it wouldn’t pass the Senate, it wouldn’t get any Democratic votes in the House, might not pass the House.

Q    But you seem to be intent on sending that message when that’s a way of antagonizing the situation, isn’t it?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’m certainly not trying to antagonize the –

Q    Are you trying to disrupt talks?  Make it harder?

MR. CARNEY:  Absolutely not.  Absolutely not.  I think that we would — we, as I said at the beginning — and let me make clear, that I’m — the President hopes that Speaker Boehner and others remain open to what is a clear path to achieve a bipartisan compromise here.  And in the details that have come out about the President’s proposal, I think it is clear that he has demonstrated good faith and a willingness to meet Speaker Boehner and the Republicans halfway in an effort to achieve what would be a very significant agreement that would be of benefit both to the middle class and to the economy.

Q    — move further.  It was pretty clear from talking to some Democrats that that wasn’t your final offer.

MR. CARNEY:  Look, I think that a path to a legitimate, balanced compromise is clear.  But the room for movement here is not large, because the President’s principles are what they are and the President has already moved exactly halfway on revenue and more than halfway on spending cuts.  So that is by definition what compromise is about — I’ll meet you halfway.  The President is here.  Republicans are here.  The President has come halfway, maybe a little bit more.  Republicans have come about this far.  So we’re close.

The President has demonstrated his reasonableness.  And his principles here are ones that are broadly supported by the American public.  So he hopes that we can get this deal.

My point about plan B is that it’s not a great alternative. It’s not a great fallback.

Q    Your plan B?  Do you think your plan is a good alternative?

MR. CARNEY:  We would prefer a bigger –

Q    — good alternative, your plan B, the $250,000 –

MR. CARNEY:  One, it’s already passed the Senate.  So if we –

Q    Why are you so sure the other one doesn’t pass the Senate?  Has Harry Reid assured you he just won’t put it on the floor?

MR. CARNEY:  I think Senator Reid has said that it wouldn’t pass the Senate.  The point is –

Q    Would he put the –

MR. CARNEY:  Again, you should speak with Senator Reid about Senate procedure and upcoming actions.  But the point is neither of these options is preferable to a balanced, broad deficit reduction package, which would be healthy, good for the economy, good for the American people, would protect the middle class as we move forward.

The President has said now for months that at the very least the House ought to follow the Senate’s action and pass tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people.  That bill is there.  It could be passed tomorrow.  We have always sought more than that. We have always sought the opportunity to achieve significant deficit reduction, because it’s good for the economy if it’s done well and right, and in a way that’s fair and balanced.

Let me move around.  Yes, Leslie.

Q    Jay, can you comment at all on the Pentagon? Investigators have concluded that a senior defense official has  leaked restricted information to the makers of the bin Laden film.  Peter King’s office is out and says they’re quite troubled by it.

MR. CARNEY:  I have seen those reports, but I can only refer you to the Pentagon.  I don’t have anything on it from here.

Q    But the fact that it went beyond and into a criminal investigation seems to suggest that it’s a little bit worse than you had led us to believe.  I think King’s office said that it’s an indication that our security was placed at risk by people who wanted to help Hollywood make a movie.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, first of all, I think that that’s not — your memory of the discussions that we had from here had to do with charges by that Congressman and others about White House — what the White House’s role in informing people who are doing stories on or other things on the bin Laden raid was.  Again, on this particular matter, I would refer you to the Pentagon.  I just don’t have anything for you on it.

Ed.

Q    If Speaker Boehner’s idea of just taxing people making a million dollars or more is so bad and unbalanced, why did the President propose that in September of 2011 — he had the millionaire’s tax, when he came out in the Rose Garden?

MR. CARNEY:  First of all, that’s an entirely different proposal.  The President has always supported expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000.  That is a position he has held since the time he took office.

There have been other proposals including the so-called Buffett Rule that would address the problem of millionaires and billionaires not paying, for example — and this goes to other — this goes beyond issues of income tax, because one of the reasons why the Buffett Rule, for example, was something the President supports — supported and supports — is because we have the issue of carried interests, which enables billionaires to pay a lower tax rate if they’re hedge fund managers or private equity investors, to pay at a much lower rate than probably you and I pay.

Q    The New York Times at the time said, “his idea” — the President’s idea — “of a millionaire’s minimum tax would be prominent in the broad plan for long-term deficit reduction that he will outline at the White House.”  So the President thought that a millionaire’s tax was –

MR. CARNEY:  You’re really confusing policies here.  The fact that you support a minimum tax for millionaires tax rate does not alter the fact that you also support returning tax rates for those making under a million dollars to what they were prior to the Bush-era tax cuts.  I think that has been established many times.

Q    Senator Schumer brought that up for a vote in 2010 –

MR. CARNEY:  It was actually a different — you really need to check your –

Q    There’s a lot of different versions of it –

MR. CARNEY:  Well, no, but –

Q    It was a million-dollar threshold is the point.

MR. CARNEY:  On the tax rates.  Again, you’re confusing a lot of different tax proposals.  And our position then is what it is now, which is that we support expiration of the tax cuts for the top 2 percent.  In his proposal for a bigger package with the Republicans, he has agreed to move that threshold from $250,000 to $400,000.

What we do know, instead of talking about things that got votes two years ago in the Senate, is that two months ago the Senate passed a bill that extends tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people — tax cuts that everyone in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike say they support, and that the House, if it fails to do anything else, has the opportunity to pass that legislation to ensure that most Americans out there don’t have their taxes go up next year.  The only thing preventing them from that when you look at the proposals here is their insistence thus far on the idea that people making $995,000 should not have their income tax rates go up.

Q    Quick question on another subject.  There’s this 27-year-old former Marine who, as you know, is in a Mexican prison. His family is urging the administration to do something about it. We don’t know all the facts of the case and what he did, what he didn’t do, but his family is asking the White House to look into it.  Is there anything going on to ascertain the facts to see whether he’s innocent or not?  Because again we don’t know what really happened.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’ll have to take the question because I don’t know the facts myself on that, so I’ll have to take the question.

Jake.

Q    The President’s close friend and advisor, David Axelrod, on Sunday evening, after watching the President’s speech was watching a football game, and an ad came on for a violent video game, and he tweeted, shouldn’t we quit — he tweeted an expression of support for banning certain kinds of weapons or regulating certain kinds of weapons, but then he said shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game.  And this touches on the cultural aspect that you seem to be alluding to also being part of the solution.  And I’m wondering if the President has any views on it, because we haven’t really heard him talk that much about these cultural issues in his time as President.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I was asked about this — well, I have seen reports on it, and I don’t have any proposals to tell you that the President thinks or we think should be moved on.  I think that there are cultural issues — and every expert on this issue would, I think, agree with that — that there are cultural issues that contribute to the broader problem with gun violence.

One of the reasons why the President wants to expand the net beyond considerations of gun laws is because he recognizes that and agrees with it that we need to look broadly at all of the potential contributors to the scourge of gun violence in this country.

So on that particular area of inquiry, I don’t have a specific proposal to tell you about, or even that there will be one.  But it’s certainly — he wants to have these conversations with people who have worked on this issue and people who are affected by it to explore all the possibilities, to move forward with a broad approach that addresses gun violence, that includes sensible legislation to deal with things like assault weapons and gun show loopholes, magazine capacity, potentially, as well as other issues — mental health issues, education issues, and perhaps cultural issues.

Q    Speaking of mental health issues, the National Alliance for Mental Illness — or of Mental Illness reports that during the recession states trimming their budgets cut almost $2 billion from mental health services.  This seems to be an area where the President could take immediate action, working with Congress to help fill the gap of the — for those states.  Has the President — is he aware of this statistic?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not sure if he’s aware of this statistic.  The issue of mental health is something that both the President and others in this administration who have broadly addressed health care issues, including Secretary Sibelius, believes is very important.  And that is why the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, contains within it assurances that those who will gain coverage that they have not had in the past will gain medical health services, including a set of services that will be available without copays or deductibles.  Because mental health issues are health issues, and the President believes that firmly.

Again, in terms of potential areas that could be addressed through action at the federal level or at the state level, he wants to hear about proposals that might help address this problem.  It is, as he said, an issue that the mental health aspect of this is an important aspect.

Q    According to the book by Daniel Klaidman, from Newsweek, the Daily Beast, about the Obama administration, in the first year of the Obama administration, Attorney General Holder was going to take action regulating guns, and the President’s Chief of Staff told him to shut up — he actually added a couple of words in there — about guns.  The issue being the fact that there were a number of Democrats in vulnerable districts where gun rights were popular that would — politically it was not wise.  Does the President know about this?  Does the President regret that that took place?  Has Attorney General Holder been told since Aurora or Fort Hood or Sikh Temple or Newtown or any of the other many, many shootings that have taken place while Mr. Obama has been President, has Mr. Holder been told to resume what he was planning on doing before the White House Chief of Staff told him to stop?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, that’s an anecdote that I’m not familiar with.

Q    It was reported –

MR. CARNEY:  — I know the author.  I confess from the podium that I didn’t read his book.  But the –

Q    Does that mean it didn’t happen?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t know, so I certainly haven’t had a discussion with the President about it.  I can tell you that the President believes, as he, I think, made very clear on Sunday night, and as I reiterated both yesterday and today, that we have not done enough as a country to address this problem and we need to do more, and that what happened in Newtown hopefully will catalyze the process of doing more.  And he will use the power of his office to move that along.  And that has begun already with the conversations he’s had here internally with — a conversation that he had today with one senator, I’m sure he’ll have with other lawmakers.

And as I think we’ve heard from a number of people both in Washington and elsewhere, the enormity of what happened on Friday I think has caused everyone — or many people to reassess where we are when it comes to the ways that we address this problem, and hopefully that that reassessment will lead to action.

Q    But, Jay, why are these conversations not taking place on a national level?  Why are –

MR. CARNEY:  Jake, can I just remind you that the shooting happened four days ago.

Q    This one did, Jay.  But there have been a lot that have taken place over the last four years.  It’s not as though gun violence became a problem on Friday.

MR. CARNEY:  I completely agree with that.  And I can only  –

Q    But it’s as though you’re completely oblivious to the fact that there have been shootings for years.

MR. CARNEY:  That’s not true.  I mean, the President — it is a fact that we have taken action — and the Department of Justice can fill you in on this — to enhance background checks. And background checks — when we talk about the fundamental issue of making sure that those who should not have weapons do not acquire them or cannot acquire them, enhancing our background check system is an important step that addresses specifically the problem.

So it is the case that we have taken action in this President’s first term.  And he made clear on Sunday evening that he believes we need to take more action.  And he looks forward to working with Congress and working with communities beyond Washington to help bring that about.

Peter.

Q    Jay, the President said and you’ve repeated that the nation has not done enough.  It sounds like what — previous Presidents used the formulation “mistakes were made,” sort of a passive construction.  Is he saying that he thinks that he has not done enough as President, personally?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think he made clear on Sunday that we as a nation, and he as a member and leader of this nation need to do more; that we cannot tolerate these kinds of tragic incidents. And he committed himself in the coming weeks to taking steps that use the power of his office to help try to bring about changes that will address this problem, recognizing the complexity of the problem and the obstacles to potential solutions to the problem.

He also said — and it’s important to remember that he said this — if whatever action we take saves one child’s life, we should take it, because what would we say to ourselves if we haven’t.  And then I think that recognizes, again, that this is a problem that cannot be solved by a single action or necessarily even a series of actions, but it should be and can be addressed.
Q    Big part of the question is, does he regret — it’s one thing to regret that Congress hasn’t done what he thinks they ought to do.  But does he regret that he hasn’t done something that he wishes now, in light of Friday, that he had done prior to that?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t heard him say it in terms other than the way he said it on Sunday night.  And I think you heard from him in a very passionate way what his reaction is to Newtown, and his reaction to Newtown as part of a series of events and incidents like it that have occurred since he’s been President, and that on too many occasions he has been in the situation that he was in in Newtown of consoling family members who have lost innocent loved ones in events like this.  So I think he spoke very passionately about his views on this and the fact that we need to take action.

Q    And one quick question.  If this compromise were to go forward that the President’s proposed, the $400,000 be the cutoff — would that be it?  Or would the President still, at some point at a later date as part of some future negotiations and future legislative initiative, try again at $250,000?  Is this the end of it from his perspective, or just one –

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he seeks, as part of this process, to make permanent tax cuts for those making below the threshold.  It is also in his proposal to fast-track processes for both corporate and individual tax reform.  But the revenue achieved through a potential compromise here, at least the one that he put forward, would be locked in, and then the reform would be essentially revenue-neutral.

How that plays out in terms of tax rates would obviously be up to those who negotiate it and worked on the tax reform in that fast track process, both on the Hill and working with administration officials.

Q    So he’s not closing off the possibility of raising rates at some later date –

MR. CARNEY:  Well, again, he’s not — his proposal here is to achieve the revenue that would be gained from extending tax cuts permanently for those making under $400,000, allowing rates to rise to their Clinton-era levels for those making above $400,000.  There are a series of other pieces of his revenue proposal that deal with some reform measures, like capping deductions and other issues, and then there would be a separate or additional tax reform process that is something that both sides have sought in a so-called two-stage deal.

But the revenue achieved — the $1.2 trillion in revenue part of this proposal would be achieved at the outset.  Then the reform process could go forward.

Major, and then Roger.

Q    You may accuse me of being unduly mathematical.  I’m  not trying to be unduly mathematical.

MR. CARNEY:  I want to be wowed by your numbers.

Q    No, no, it has nothing to do with numbers, but I asked you yesterday if there was any task force work.  Obviously, there was a meeting yesterday on this subject post-Newtown.  So if it’s possible to convey to the nation after that meeting and in the intervening days since, proportionally, does the President view this as mostly a gun-control issue, or a 50-50 gun control, mental health, personal responsibility?  And can you give the nation a sense that whatever he proposes, whenever he proposes it, will be inclusive of all of those things?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think that’s a good question and I appreciate it.  The President believes that there are multiple elements that need to be addressed that are part of the problem of gun violence.  And as any expert on this subject I think would tell you gun laws would not alone solve this problem and he recognizes that.  He would, however, support and has supported some gun control legislation like the assault weapons ban, like closure of the gun show loophole.

What the proportion is, is hard to say, but I think you break it down to issues of law enforcement, issues of — and then law enforcement can mean not just gun legislation, but other issues of law enforcement, obviously, like background checks and the like.  Then there’s mental health and broader health care issues.  There’s education issues.  I think those are three pockets; whether that’s 33, 33, 33 is hard to say.

But it is simply a fact that legislation that addresses access to certain types of weapons or magazines or how we perform background checks, while they have merit and the President supports the ones that I’ve mentioned, would not alone address this problem.  What I can’t tell you — to go to the second part of your question — is what the rollout of the President’s ideas, what form that will take, whether it will be things of — pieces of legislation that exist that he supports and has made that clear, I have also, or other things that might come up that he supports.

I think at some point you’ll hear from him more broadly on this issue, but I don’t have a timeframe for you on that.  So this is a process that has just begun and includes the meeting he had yesterday.  But beyond that, I just don’t have more for you.

Q    All right, more mathematics.  Based on briefings here and reaction from the Hill, there are some differences, but the revenue differences, which heretofore have been a significant impediment, are down to $1.2 trillion versus $1 trillion.  And there are a lot of other issues, I acknowledge that.  My question to you is, does this bill, and does the President believe there is an intrinsic, larger value to resolving this during this week as the country mourns a larger national tragedy in providing some evidence that all the rhetoric about the future of the children and everything else has actual meaning as related to our fiscal future?

MR. CARNEY:  I hesitate to make grand pronouncements about the connection that some of you have made between what happened in Connecticut and other work that is taking place here.  I do think that the President –

Q    But you know and I know –

MR. CARNEY:  No, I understand –

Q    — here that it reverberates.

MR. CARNEY:  It certainly does.  And I think that at its core, tragedies like that at their core bring us as Americans together in our grief, and in our resolve, and in our neighborliness.  They remind us of all that we share as opposed to the differences that we have.

And out of the ashes of a tragedy like that, as the President I think spoke to in Newtown, we should take heart from that — from the spirit of the community there, the spirit of communities that have been affected elsewhere.  When first responders rush into a situation like that to try to save lives, nobody is thinking about political differences.  So I think that any reminder of what binds us together is helpful and useful as we try to do the country’s business here.  I think the President –

Q    Would you acknowledge it has catalyzed the process?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I just don’t know because I can’t speak to everyone’s motivations.  I think that –

Q    Does the President think it’s catalyzed the process?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he has been committed to this process for a long time.  He has been committed to seeking a broad deficit-reduction deal, one that protects the middle class, one that achieves balance and is good for our economy.

It is certainly — I think the events in Connecticut are a reminder to him, as he spoke about in Newtown, of what’s most important in our lives, what our greatest responsibilities are.  And if to the extent that that is a motivation to do more and do better for all of us, I think, then that’s worth recognizing.

Roger, I think I said I’d call on you.

Q    In the Biden meeting yesterday on guns, did the President give the Vice President a specific due date for this report or recommendations?

MR. CARNEY:  No.  And I don’t have a further readout of the meeting that included not just the Vice President, but the secretaries — Cabinet Secretaries that I mentioned and some senior staff here at the White House.  It’s the beginning of a process where they’re looking for — we will look for ways to address this problem in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown.

Q    And one other quick follow-up on chained CPI.  You said the most vulnerable would be exempted out.  What do you mean by that?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don’t have the technical details for you.  But this is something that can be and has been done before in an effort to make sure that — one example, the oldest of Social Security recipients would be potentially protected from the impact of a change like this.  But I don’t have more details for you on that.

Q    Jay, to be determined, in other words?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, there are processes that this has been done in the past and can be done.

Q    I guess what threw me was when you said “exempted out.”  It means they would be taken off –

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I appreciate the question, because it gives me the opportunity to refine my language — because I think what I meant to say is that there would be protections for most vulnerable populations and perhaps “exempted out” is not the proper way to describe it.

Q    Jay, does the President have concerns about the dramatic increase, the upsurge in weapons sales just obviously based on the specter of the prospect of new gun control laws?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t asked him about that.  I think that’s a phenomenon we’ve seen in the past.  But I haven’t got a response from him for you.

Q    Would he like to see retailers — as one, at least one already has — voluntarily stop selling the type of weapon that was used in Newtown?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t had that discussion with him either.  I know that he supports some legislation that we’ve already talked about and is certainly interested in hearing about other ideas and other possible proposals, mindful of the fact that gun control legislation alone will not sufficiently address this problem.

Thanks very much.

END
1:42 P.M. EST

Political Headlines December 17, 2012: President Barack Obama, White House Make New Offer to Speaker John Boehner in Talks To Avoid Fiscal Cliff — Deal Close

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Makes New Offer in Talks To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-17-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

They are getting closer.

The White House presented a new offer to Speaker of the House John Boehner Monday that makes some important concessions in the talks to work out a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a mixture of tax rate hikes and spending cuts that go into effect in January if a deficit reduction agreement is not reached. This White House package comes in response to the offer Boehner made to allow tax rates rise on those making $1 million.

The new offer from the White House includes fewer tax increases and more limits on the entitlement spending — including limits on cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients — than the President’s previous offers.

Speaker of the House John Boehner will present this latest White House offer to House Republicans Tuesday morning. Here are some of the key concessions….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 17, 2012: President Barack Obama & Speaker John Boehner Meet Again, Seek End to Fiscal Cliff Stalemate

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama and Boehner Meet Again, Seek End to Fiscal Cliff Stalemate

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-17-12

File photo. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met again at the White House Monday to continue their discussion about avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.

The meeting lasted approximately 45 minutes, the White House said. Upon returning to the Capitol, Boehner kept quiet as he made his way through a small scrum of reporters, ignoring all questions….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 16, 2012: In Fiscal Cliff Talks, Speaker John Boehner Gives on Some Higher Rates in Exchange for Entitlement Cuts

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

In Fiscal Cliff Talks, Boehner Gives on Some Higher Rates in Exchange for Entitlement Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-16-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Imags

Sources familiar with negotiations say that in a phone call on Friday afternoon House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, offered President Obama a deal including letting tax rates expire for those who make over $1 million a year, contingent upon significant entitlement spending cuts and reforms.

One specific example would be savings achieved by slowing the growth of Social Security.

Essentially Boehner offered $1 trillion in revenue over ten years, and somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.2 trillion in spending cuts….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 13, 2012: Speaker John Boehner & President Barack Obama Meet at White House; No ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Yet

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner, Obama Meet at White House; No ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Yet

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-14-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner was invited to the White House Thursday afternoon for another meeting with President Obama on ways to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff.”

The 50-minute face-to-face meeting was described as a frank and candid exchange of views.  There has been no indication that any decision or agreement has been reached….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 13, 2012: President Barack Obama & Speaker John Boehner Impasse on ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Threatens Holiday, Sandy Relief

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, Boehner Impasse on ‘Cliff’ Threatens Holiday, Sandy Relief

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-13-12

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner just can’t seem to break through an impasse in their “fiscal cliff” talks, increasing pessimism about a deal by Christmas and now threatening to sidetrack billions in federal aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

After weeks of public posturing and private negotiations, both sides remain firmly dug in with their opposing positions on tax hikes and spending cuts for deficit reduction….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 10, 2012: President Barack Obama Speech on the Fiscal Cliff, Economy and Middle-Class Tax Cuts at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant, Redford, Michigan

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Talks About “the Idea that Built America”

Source: WH, 12-10-12

President Obama Tours the Detroit Diesel Facility, Dec. 10, 2012.President Barack Obama watches as workers explain the process of assembling connecting rods and pistons during a tour of the Detroit Diesel Facility in Redford, Mich., Dec. 10, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama was in Detroit today to talk about the economy — how companies are reinvesting in American workers and why it’s so important to extend tax cuts for middle class families.

“I believe America only succeeds and thrives when we’ve got a strong and growing middle class,” he said to the crowd at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant. “I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead; that they can get a job that pays the bills; that they’ve got health care that they can count on; that they can retire with dignity and respect, maybe take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy, just being able to pack up the kids and go someplace and enjoy time with people that you love; make sure that your kids can go to a good school; make sure they can aspire to whatever they want to be. That idea is what built America.”

Remarks by the President at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant, Redford, MI

President Obama Speaks on the Economy and Middle-Class Tax Cuts

President Obama Speaks on the Economy and Middle-Class Tax Cuts

Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant
Redford, Michigan

2:29 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Redford!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Michigan.  (Applause.)  How is everybody doing today? (Applause.)

Now, let me just start off by saying we have something in common — both our teams lost yesterday.  (Laughter.)  I mean, I would like to come here and talk a little smack about the Bears, but we didn’t quite get it done.  But it is wonderful to be back. It is good to see everybody in the great state of Michigan.  (Applause.)

A few people I want to acknowledge — first of all, the Mayor of Detroit here — Dave Bing is in the house.  (Applause.) We’ve got the Redford Supervisor — Tracey Schultz Kobylarz.  (Applause.)  We’ve got some outstanding members of Congress who are here — please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Martin for hosting us.  I want to thank Jeff and Gibby for giving me a great tour of the factory.  (Applause.) I’ve got to say I love coming to factories.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you.  (Applause.)

So in addition to seeing the best workers in the world — (applause) — you’ve also got all this cool equipment.  (Laughter.)  I wanted to try out some of the equipment, but Secret Service wouldn’t let me.  (Laughter.)  They said, you’re going to drop something on your head, hurt yourself.  (Laughter.) They were worried I’d mess something up.  And Jeff and Gibby may not admit it, but I think they were pretty happy the Secret Service wouldn’t let me touch the equipment.  (Laughter.)

Now, it’s been a little over a month since the election came to an end.  (Applause.)  So it’s now safe for you to turn your televisions back on.  (Laughter.)  All those scary political ads are off the air.  You can answer your phone again — nobody is calling you in the middle of dinner asking for your support.  But, look, I have to admit there’s one part of the campaign that I miss, and that is it is a great excuse for me to get out of Washington and come to towns like this and talk to the people who work so hard every day and are looking out for their families and are in their communities, and just having a conversation about what kind of country do we want to be; what kind of country do we want to leave behind for our kids.  Because ultimately, that’s what this is about.

And I believe — and I’ve been saying this not just for the last six months or the last year, but ever since I got into public office — I believe America only succeeds and thrives when we’ve got a strong and growing middle class.  (Applause.)  That’s what I believe.  I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead; that they can get a job that pays the bills; that they’ve got health care that they can count on; that they can retire with dignity and respect, maybe take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy, just being able to pack up the kids and go someplace and enjoy time with people that you love; make sure that your kids can go to a good school; make sure they can aspire to whatever they want to be.

That idea is what built America.  That’s the idea that built Michigan.  That’s the idea that’s at the heart of the economic plan I’ve been talking about all year long on the campaign trail. I want to give more Americans the chance to earn the skills that businesses are looking for right now, and give our kids the kind of education they need to succeed in the 21st century.  I want to make sure America leads the world in research and technology and clean energy.  I want to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools.  (Applause.)  That’s how we grow an economy.

I want us to bring down our deficits, but I want to do it in a balanced, responsible way.  And I want to reward — I want a tax code that rewards businesses and manufacturers like Detroit Diesel right here, creating jobs right here in Redford, right here in Michigan, right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  That’s where we need to go.  That’s the country we need to build.  And when it comes to bringing manufacturing back to America — that’s why I’m here today.

Since 1938, Detroit Diesel has been turning out some of the best engines in the world.  (Applause.)  Over all those years, generations of Redford workers have walked through these doors.  Not just to punch a clock.  Not just to pick up a paycheck.  Not just to build an engine.  But to build a middle-class life for their families; to earn a shot at the American Dream.

For seven and a half decades, through good times and bad,  through revolutions in technology that sent a lot of good jobs — manufacturing jobs — overseas, men and women like you, your parents, maybe even your grandparents, have done your part to build up America’s manufacturing strength.  That’s something you can all be proud of.  And now you’re writing a new proud chapter to that history.  Eight years ago, you started building axles here alongside the engines.  That meant more work.  That meant more jobs.  (Applause.)  So you started seeing products — more products stamped with those three proud words:  Made in America.
Today, Daimler is announcing a new $120 million investment into this plant, creating 115 good, new union jobs building transmissions and turbochargers right here in Redford — (applause) — 115 good new jobs right here in this plant, making things happen.  That is great for the plant.  It’s great for this community.  But it’s also good for American manufacturing.  Soon, you guys will be building all the key parts that go into powering a heavy-duty truck, all at the same facility.  Nobody else in America is doing that.  Nobody else in North America is doing that.

And by putting everything together in one place, under one roof, Daimler engineers can design each part so it works better with the others.  That means greater fuel efficiency for your trucks.  It means greater savings for your customers.  That’s a big deal.  And it’s just the latest example of Daimler’s leadership on this issue.

Last year, I was proud to have your support when we announced the first-ever national fuel-efficiency standards for commercial trucks, which is going to help save consumers money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  That’s good news.  (Applause.)

But here’s the other reason why what you guys are doing, what Daimler is doing, is so important.  For a long time, companies, they weren’t always making those kinds of investments here in the United States.  They weren’t always investing in American workers.  They certainly weren’t willing to make them in the U.S. auto industry.

Remember, it was just a few years ago that our auto industry was on the verge of collapse.  GM, Chrysler were all on the brink of failure.  And if they failed, the suppliers and distributors that get their business from those companies, they would have died off, too.  Even Ford could have gone down — production halted.  Factories shuttered.  Once proud companies chopped up and sold off for scraps.  And all of you — the men and women who built these companies with your own hands  — would have been hung out to dry.  And everybody in this community that depends on you — restaurant owners, storekeepers, bartenders — (laughter and applause) — their livelihoods would have been at stake, too.

So I wasn’t about to let that happen.  I placed my bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  I’d make that same bet any day of the week.  (Applause.)  Three and a half years later, that bet is paying off.  This industry has added over a quarter of a million new jobs.  Assembly lines are humming again.  The American auto industry is back.

And companies like Daimler know you’re still a smart bet.  They could have made their investment somewhere else, but they didn’t.  And if you ask them whether it was a tough call, they’ll tell you it wasn’t even close.  So the word is going out all around the world:  If you want to find the best workers in the world, if you want to find the best factories in the world, if you want to build the best cars or trucks or any other product in the world, you should invest in the United States of America.  This is the place to be.  (Applause.)

See, you’re starting to see the competitive balance is tipping a little bit.  Over the past few years, it’s become more expensive to do business in countries like China.  Our workers have become even more productive.  Our energy costs are starting to go down here in the United States.  And we still have the largest market.  So when you factor in everything, it makes sense to invest here, in America.

And that’s one of the reasons why American manufacturing is growing at the fastest pace since the 1990s.  And thanks in part to that boost in manufacturing, four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our economy is growing again. Our businesses have created more than 5.5 million new jobs over the past 33 months.  So we’re making progress.  (Applause.)  We’re moving in the right direction.  We’re going forward.

So what we need to do is simple.  We need to keep going.  We need to keep going forward.  We should do everything we can to keep creating good middle-class jobs that help folks rebuild security for their families.  (Applause.)  And we should do everything we can to encourage companies like Daimler to keep investing in American workers.

And by the way, what we shouldn’t do — I just got to say this — what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions.  (Applause.)  We shouldn’t be doing that.  (Applause.)  These so-called “right to work” laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics.  (Applause.) What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.  (Applause.)

You only have to look to Michigan — where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry — to see how unions have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America.  (Applause.)  So folks from our state’s capital, all the way to the nation’s capital, they should be focused on the same thing.  They should be working to make sure companies like this manufacturer is able to make more great products.  That’s what they should be focused on.  (Applause.)  We don’t want a race to the bottom.  We want a race to the top.  (Applause.)

America is not going to compete based on low-skill, low-wage, no workers’ rights.  That’s not our competitive advantage. There’s always going to be some other country that can treat its workers even worse.  Right?

AUDIENCE:  Right!

THE PRESIDENT:  What’s going to make us succeed is we got the best workers — well trained, reliable, productive, low turnover, healthy.  That’s what makes us strong.  And it also is what allows our workers then to buy the products that we make because they got enough money in their pockets.  (Applause.)

So we’ve got to get past this whole situation where we manufacture crises because of politics.  That actually leads to less certainty, more conflict, and we can’t all focus on coming together to grow.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s right!

THE PRESIDENT:  And the same thing — we’re seeing the same thing in Washington.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the talk recently about some big deadlines we’re facing in a few weeks when it comes to decisions on jobs and investment and taxes.  And that debate is going to have a big impact on all of you.  Some of you may know this:  If Congress doesn’t act soon, meaning in the next few weeks, starting on January 1st, everybody is going to see their income taxes go up.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s true.  You all don’t like that.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Typical, middle-class family of four will see an income tax hike of around $2,200.  How many of you can afford to pay another $2,200 in taxes?  Not you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t think so.  You can’t afford to lose that money.  That’s a hit you can’t afford to take.  And, by the way, that’s not a good hit for businesses, either — because if Congress lets middle-class taxes go up, economists will tell you that means people will spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would spend.  Consumer spending is going to go down.  That means you’ve got less customers.  Businesses get fewer profits.  They hire fewer workers.  You go in a downward spiral. Wrong idea.

Here is the good news:  We can solve this problem.  All Congress needs to do is pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income — everybody.  (Applause.)  That means 98 percent of Americans — and probably 100 percent of you — (laughter) — 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up a single dime.  Even the wealthiest Americans would still get a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income.  But when they start making a million, or $10 million, or $20 million you can afford to pay a little bit more.  (Applause.)  You’re not too strapped.

So Congress can do that right now.  Everybody says they agree with it.  Let’s get it done.  (Applause.)

So that’s the bare minimum.  That’s the bare minimum we should be doing in order to the grow the economy.  But we can do more.  We can do more than just extend middle-class tax cuts.  I’ve said I will work with Republicans on a plan for economic growth, job creation, and reducing our deficits.  And that has some compromise between Democrats and Republicans.  I understand people have a lot of different views.  I’m willing to compromise a little bit.

But if we’re serious about reducing our deficit, we’ve also got to be serious about investing in the things that help us grow and make the middle class strong, like education, and research and development, and making sure kids can go to college, and rebuilding our roads and our infrastructure.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to do that.

So when you put it all together, what you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle-class families; we make some tough spending cuts on things that we don’t need; and then we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate.  And that’s a principle I won’t compromise on, because I’m not going to have a situation where the wealthiest among us, including folks like me, get to keep all our tax breaks, and then we’re asking students to pay higher student loans.  Or suddenly, a school doesn’t have schoolbooks because the school district couldn’t afford it.  Or some family that has a disabled kid isn’t getting the help that they need through Medicaid.

We’re not going to do that.  We’re not going to make that tradeoff.  That’s not going to help us to grow.  Our economic success has never come from the top down; it comes from the middle out.  It comes from the bottom up.  (Applause.)  It comes from folks like you working hard, and if you’re working hard and you’re successful, then you become customers and everybody does well.

Our success as a country in this new century will be defined by how well we educate our kids, how well we train our workers, how well we invent, how well we innovate, how well we build things like cars and engines — all the things that helped create the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  That’s how you bring new jobs back to Detroit.  That’s how you bring good jobs back to America.  That’s what I’m focused on.  That’s what I will stay relentlessly focused on going forward.  (Applause.)

Because when we focus on these things –- when we stay true to ourselves and our history, there’s nothing we can’t do.  (Applause.)  And if you don’t believe me, you need to come down to this plant and see all these outstanding workers.

In fact, as I was coming over here, I was hearing about a guy named Willie.  (Applause.)  Where’s Willie?  There’s Willie right here.  There’s Willie.  (Applause.)  Now, in case you haven’t heard of him, they actually call him “Pretty Willie.”  (Laughter.)  Now, I got to say you got to be pretty tough to have a nickname like “Pretty Willie.”  (Laughter.)  He’s tough.

On Wednesday, Willie will celebrate 60 years working at Detroit Diesel — 60 years.  (Applause.)  Willie started back on December 12, 1952.  I was not born yet.  (Laughter.)  Wasn’t even close to being born.  He made $1.40 an hour.  The only time he spent away from this plant was when he was serving our country in the Korean War.  (Applause.)  So three generations of Willie’s family have passed through Detroit Diesel.  One of his daughters works here with him right now — is that right?  There she is.  (Applause.)

In all his years, Willie has been late to work only once.  It was back in 1977.  (Laughter.)  It’s been so long he can’t remember why he was late — (laughter and applause) — but we’re willing to give him a pass.

So Willie believes in hard work.  You don’t keep a job for 60 years if you don’t work hard.  Sooner or later, someone is going to fire you if you don’t work hard.  He takes pride in being part of something bigger than himself.  He’s committed to family; he’s committed to community; he’s committed to country. That’s how Willie lives his life.  That’s how all of you live your lives.

And that makes me hopeful about the future, because you’re out there fighting every day for a better future for your family and your country.  And when you do that, that means you’re creating value all across this economy.  You’re inspiring people. You’re being a good example for your kids.  That’s what makes America great.  That’s what we have to stay focused on.

And as long as I’ve got the privilege of serving as your President, I’m going to keep fighting for you.  I’m going to keep fighting for your kids.  I’m going to keep fighting for an America where anybody, no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, you can make it if you try here in America.  (Applause.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

END
2:51 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency December 6, 2012: President Barack Obama Speech on the Fiscal Cliff Crisis & Preventing an Income Tax Increase on the Middle Class

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Preventing an Income Tax Increase on the Middle Class

Source: WH, 12-6-12

Private Residence
Northern Virginia

2:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want to, first of all, just thank Tiffany and Richard, Jimmie and Velma for opening up their beautiful home to us.  The reason that we’re here is because Tiffany is one of the people who responded to My2K.

As many of you know, we asked folks all across the country to talk a little bit about what would it mean if their income taxes went up in 2013, and Tiffany, who is a high school teacher, responded.  Her husband, Richard, works at a Toyota dealership.  They actually live with Tiffany’s parents, both of whom are still working.  And so what Tiffany pointed out was that an increase of $2,000 or so for her and her husband in this household would actually mean $4,000 that was lost.  And a couple of thousand dollars means a couple months’ rent for this family.

And the story they tell about working hard, my understanding is they’re interested in starting a business as well as the work that they currently do.  They’ve got dreams and ambitions.  They’ve got a beautiful 6-year-old son, Noah, who’s back with great-grandma.  And they’re keeping it together, they’re working hard, they’re meeting their responsibilities.

For them to be burdened unnecessarily because Democrats and Republicans aren’t coming together to solve this problem gives you a sense of the costs involved in very personal terms.  Obviously, it would also have an impact on our economy, because if this family has a couple of thousand dollars less to spend, that translates into $200 billion of less consumer spending next year.  And that’s bad for businesses large and small.  It’s bad for our economy.  It means less folks are being hired, and we can be back in a downward spiral instead of the kind of virtuous cycle that we want to see.

So the message that I got from Tiffany and the message that I think we all want to send to members of Congress is this is a solvable problem.  The Senate has already passed a bill that would make sure that middle-class taxes do not go up next year by a single dime.  Ninety-eight percent of Americans whose incomes are $250,000 a year or less would not see any increases.  Ninety-seven percent of small businesses would not see any increases in their income taxes.  And even folks who make more than $250,000 would still have a tax break for their incomes up to $250,000.  So 100 percent of Americans actually would be keeping a portion of their tax cuts, and 98 percent of them would not be seeing any increase in their income tax.

That’s the right thing to do for our economy.  It’s the right thing to do for families like Tiffany’s and Richard’s.  And it’s very important that we get this done now, that we don’t wait.  We’re in the midst of the Christmas season; I think the American people are counting on this getting solved.  The closer it gets to the brink, the more stressed they’re going to be.  Businesses are making decisions right now about investment and hiring, and if they don’t have confidence that we can get this thing done, then they’re going to start pulling back and we could have a rocky time in our economy over the next several months, or even next year.

So I’m encouraged to see that there’s been some discussion on the part of Republicans acknowledging the need for additional revenue.  As I’ve indicated, the only way to get the kind of revenue for a balanced deficit reduction plan is to make sure that we’re also modestly increasing rates for people who can afford it — folks like me.  For folks who are in the top 2 percent, we can afford to have a modest rate increase.  That allows us to not only reduce our deficit in a balanced, responsible way, it also allows us to make investments in education, in making college affordable, in putting folks back to work, and investing in basic research that’s important for our economy.

And I think we all recognize that there are some smart cuts we’ve got to make in government.  We’re going to have to strengthen our entitlement programs so that they’re there for future generations.  Everybody is going to have to share in some sacrifice, but it starts with folks who are in the best position to sacrifice, who are in the best position to do a little bit more to step up.  And that’s what my plan does.

So just to be clear, I’m not going to sign any package that somehow prevents the top rate from going up for folks at the top 2 percent.  But I do remain optimistic that we can get something done that is good for families like this one’s and that is good for the American economy.

All right.  Thank you very much, everybody.

END
2:45 P.M. EST

Political Headlines December 3, 2012: Speaker John Boehner Counters Barack Obama Deficit-Cutting Deal With ‘Credible Plan’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner Counters Obama Deficit-Cutting Deal With ‘Credible Plan’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-11-12

Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call

[ CLICK TO SEE A COPY OF BOEHNER'S LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT ]

House Speaker John Boehner on Monday sent President Obama a counter-proposal on how to cut the deficit that he called a “credible plan” to break the stalemate in negotiations to keep the country from going off the “fiscal cliff.”

In the plan, Republicans offer a total of $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. That would give lawmakers enough savings to off-set $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts set to take effect Jan. 2, 2013, but senior Republican aides said it does not explicitly include an offer to address the standoff over whether the president or Congress should have power over debt limit increases. The GOP deal offers $800 billion in new revenue through tax reform, but Boehner insist that tax rates should not go up on the top 2 percent of taxpayers….READ MORE

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer issued the following statement Monday afternoon, saying the GOP proposal does not “meet the test of balance.”

The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve. Independent analysts who have looked at plans like this one have concluded that middle class taxes will have to go up to pay for lower rates for millionaires and billionaires.  While the President is willing to compromise to get a significant, balanced deal and believes that compromise is readily available to Congress, he is not willing to compromise on the principles of fairness and balance that include asking the wealthiest to pay higher rates.  President Obama believes – and the American people agree – that the economy works best when it is grown from the middle out, not from the top down.  Until the Republicans in Congress are willing to get serious about asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher tax rates, we won’t be able to achieve a significant, balanced approach to reduce our deficit our nation needs.

Full Text Obama Presidency December 3, 2012: President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter — Fiscal Cliff Twitter Interview Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter

Source: WH, 12-3-12

President Obama participates in a live Twitter #My2k chat, Dec. 3, 2012. President Barack Obama participates in a Twitter #My2k live question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

[ READ THE FULL TWITTER Q&A HERE ]

[View the story "President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter" on Storify]

If Congress doesn’t act, a typical middle-class family will see their taxes go up by about $2,000. Last week, President Obama began calling on Americans to make their voices heard and share what $2,000 means to families across the country.

And today, the President connected directly with the Americans who are speaking out about these tax cuts. During a live Twitter Q&A from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama explained why Congress must act and encouraged people around the country to continue to add their voices to the debate.

Those from whom we heard today are just a few of the people speaking out. Since last week, we’ve heard from over 300,000 people on this issue (with more than 200,000 #My2k tweets and over 100,000 stories submitted on whitehouse.gov). Make sure your voice is heard. Tell us what $2,000 means to you on WhiteHouse.gov/my2k and on Twitter with #My2k.

We know this kind of action has real power. A year ago, during another big fight to protect middle class families, tens of thousands of working Americans called and tweeted and emailed to make their voices heard. The same thing happened earlier this year when college students across the country stood up and demanded that Congress keep rates low on student loans. When the American people speak out they help get things done in Washington — and the President is once again asking the American people to add their voices to this effort.

Political Headlines December 3, 2012: President Barack Obama on Twitter Discusses Fiscal Cliff & Confronts Skeptics of Tax Hike for Rich

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama on Twitter Confronts Skeptics of Tax Hike for Rich

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-3-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

[ READ THE FULL TWITTER Q&A HERE ]

With talks to resolve the “fiscal cliff” at an impasse, President Obama on Monday used Twitter to respond directly to skeptics of his plan to hike income tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at the end of the year.

Obama asserted — through a series of 144-character Tweets sent from his Apple MacBook inside the White House — that “high end tax cuts do least for economic growth” and sharply curtailing government spending hurts the middle class….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 3, 2012: John Boehner, Timothy Geithner Report Little Progress on ‘Fiscal Cliff’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

John Boehner, Timothy Geithner Report Little Progress on ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-2-12

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images

Negotiations between Congress and the White House over the “fiscal cliff” may be continuing in private this weekend, but on television airwaves the top Republican on Capitol Hill reported talks are still at an impasse.

“I would say we’re nowhere. Period,” House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview aired on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing. They’ve actually asked for more revenue than they’ve been asking for the whole entire time.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 30, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff Deal & Middle Class Tax Extension in Visit to Rodon Group Toy Manufacturing Facility in Hatfield, Pennsylvania

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: The Sooner We Get This Done, the Sooner Our Economy Gets a Boost

Source: WH, 11-30-12

President Barack Obama examines a K'NEX rollercoasterPresident Barack Obama examines a K’NEX rollercoaster with Michael Araten, President and CEO of K’NEX and Rodon Group, right, during a tour of the company in Hatfield, Pa., Nov. 30, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Today, President Obama spoke at a toy factory in Hatfield, Pennsylvania about extending tax cuts for middle-class families.

The Rodon Group, a third-generation family owned business, manufactures Tinkertoy and K’NEX building sets. The company depends on the many Americans who buy gifts for family and friends during the holiday season.

But, if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1, President Obama said.

 A typical middle-class family of four would see their income taxes go up by about $2,200. That’s for a typical family — it would be more for some folks. That’s money a lot of families just can’t afford to lose. That’s less money to buy gas, less money to buy groceries. In some cases, it means tougher choices between paying the rent and saving for college. It means less money to buy more K’NEX.

“And when folks are buying fewer clothes, or cars, or toys, that’s not good for our businesses; it’s not good for our economy; it’s not good for employment,” President Obama explained.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the K’NEX Production FacilityPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks at the K’NEX Production Facility in Hatfield, Pa., Nov. 30, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But there is another option.

Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. That means 98 percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime in 2013. Those who make more than $250,000 would still keep their tax cut on the first $250,000 of income.

President Obama said he has a pen ready to sign that law as soon as it’s ready, but he can’t do that without help from both from Congress and the American people.

I need you to remind members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — to not get bogged down in a bunch of partisan bickering, but let’s go ahead and focus on the people who sent us to Washington and make sure that we’re doing the right thing by them.

So I want you to call, I want you to send an email, post on their Facebook wall. If you tweet, then use a hashtag we’re calling “My2K.” … Because it’s about your “2K” in your pocket.

“Let’s give families all across America the kind of security and certainty that they deserve during the holiday season,” he said. “Let’s keep our economy on the right track. Let’s stand up for the American belief that each of us have our own dreams and aspirations, but we’re also in this together, and we can work together in a responsible way; that we’re one people, and we’re one nation. That’s what this country is all about”

Remarks by the President in Visit to Rodon Group Manufacturing Facility

Hatfield, Pennsylvania

12:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good morning!

THE PRESIDENT: Everybody, please, please have a seat. Have a seat. Relax for a second. (Laughter.)

It is good to see all of you. Hello, Hatfield! (Applause.) It is good to be back in Pennsylvania. And it is good to be right here at K’NEX. (Applause.) I want to thank Michael Araten, Robert Glickman, and the inventor of K’NEX, Joel Glickman, for hosting me today and giving me a great tour. (Applause.) Where did they go? Where did they go? I want to — (applause) — stand up. Stand up so everybody can see you guys. There they are. (Applause.) There you go.

And I just noticed, we’ve got a couple of outstanding members of Congress here. We’ve got Chaka Fattah — (applause)
— and Allyson Schwartz. (Applause.)

Now, I just finished getting a tour of the K’NEX workshop. I have to say, it makes me wish that Joel had invented this stuff a little sooner, when I was a kid. (Laughter.) Back then, you couldn’t really build a rollercoaster out of your Erector Set. (Laughter.)

And I also got a chance to meet some of the folks who have been working around the clock to keep up with the Christmas rush, and that’s a good thing. These guys are Santa’s extra elves here. They manufacture almost 3,000 K’NEX pieces every minute. And every box that ends up on store shelves in 30 countries is stamped “Made in America.” And that’s something to be proud of. That’s something to be proud of. (Applause.)

By the way, I hope the camera folks had a chance to take a look at some of the K’NEX, including that flag made out of K’NEX. And Joe Biden was in Costco; he wanted to buy some of this stuff. (Laughter.) But I told him he had too much work to do. I wasn’t going to have him building rollercoasters all day long. (Laughter.)

Now, of course, Santa delivers everywhere. I’ve been keeping my own naughty-and-nice list for Washington. So you should keep your eye on who gets some K’NEX this year. (Laughter.) There are going to be some members of Congress who get them, and some who don’t. (Laughter and applause.)

So, look, this is a wonderful time of year. It’s been a few weeks since a long election finally came to an end. And obviously, I couldn’t be more honored to be back in the White House. But I’m already missing the time that I spent on the campaign visiting towns like this and talking to folks like you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. That’s why I miss you. (Applause.)

And one of the benefits of traveling and getting out of the White House is it gives you a chance to have a conversation with the American people about what kind of country do we want to be
–- and what kind of country do we want to leave to our kids.

I believe America only thrives when we have a strong and growing middle class. And I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That’s what I believe. And I know that’s what the founders of this company believe as well. We were talking about these guys’ dad, who I understand just passed away at the age of 101. So these guys have good genes in addition to inventive minds. And the story of generations starting businesses, hiring folks, making sure that if you work hard, you can get ahead, that’s what America is all about. And that’s at the heart of the plan that I’ve been talking about all year.

I want to reward manufacturers like this one and small businesses that create jobs here in the United States, not overseas. (Applause.) And by the way this is a company — one of the few companies in the toy industry that have aggressively moved jobs back here. (Applause.) That’s a great story to tell because we’ve got the best workers in the world and the most productive workers in the world, and so we need champions for American industry creating jobs here in the United States.

I want to give more Americans the chance to earn the skills that businesses are looking for right now, and I want to give our children the kind of education they’ll need in the 21st century. I want America to lead the world in research and technology and clean energy. I want to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools. And I want to do all this while bringing down our deficits in a balanced and responsible way. (Applause.)

Now, on this last point, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk in Washington and in the media about the deadlines that we’re facing on jobs and taxes and investments. This is not some run-of-the-mill debate. This isn’t about which political party can come out on top in negotiations. We’ve got important decisions to make that are going to have a real impact on businesses and families all across the country.

Our ultimate goal, our long-term goal is to get our long-term deficit under control in a way that is balanced and is fair. That would be good for businesses, for our economy, for future generations. And I believe both parties can — and will — work together in the coming weeks to get that done. We know how that gets done. We’re going to have to raise a little more revenue. We’ve got to cut out spending we don’t need, building on the trillion dollars of spending cuts we’ve already made. And if we combine those two things, we can create a path where America is paying its bills while still being able to make investments in the things we need to grow like education and infrastructure. So we know how to do that.

But in Washington, nothing is easy, so there is going to be some prolonged negotiations. And all of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen. I’m willing to do that, and I’m hopeful that enough members of Congress in both parties are willing to do that as well. We can solve these problems. But where the clock is really ticking right now is on middle-class taxes. At the end of the year, middle-class taxes that are currently in place are set to expire — middle-class tax cuts that are currently in place are set to expire.

There are two things that can happen. If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1st. Every family, everybody here, you’ll see your taxes go up on January 1st. I mean, I’m assuming that doesn’t sound too good to you.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: That’s sort of like the lump of coal you get for Christmas. That’s a Scrooge Christmas. A typical middle-class family of four would see their income taxes go up by about $2,200. That’s for a typical family — it would be more for some folks. That’s money a lot of families just can’t afford to lose. That’s less money to buy gas, less money to buy groceries. In some cases, it means tougher choices between paying the rent and saving for college. It means less money to buy more K’NEX.

AUDIENCE: Booo — (laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Just the other day, economists said that if income taxes go up on the middle class, people will spend nearly $200 billion less in stores and online. And when folks are buying fewer clothes, or cars, or toys, that’s not good for our businesses; it’s not good for our economy; it’s not good for employment.

So that’s one path: Congress does nothing, we don’t deal with this looming tax hike on middle-class families, and starting in January, everybody gets hit with this big tax hike and businesses suddenly see fewer customers, less demand. The economy, which we’ve been fighting for four years to get out of this incredible economic crisis that we have, it starts stalling again. So that’s one path.

The good news is there’s a second option. Right now, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income — everybody. So that means 98 percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime — because 98 percent of Americans make $250,000 a year or less; 97 percent of small businesses make $250,000 a year or less. So if you say income taxes don’t go up for any income above $250,000, the vast majority of Americans, they don’t see a tax hike.

But here’s the thing. Even the top 2 percent, even folks who make more than $250,000, they’d still keep their tax cut on the first $250,000 of income. So it would still be better off for them, too, for us to go ahead and get that done. Families would have a sense of security going into the new year. Companies like this one would know what to expect in terms of planning for next year and the year after. That means people’s jobs would be secure.

The sooner Congress gets this done, the sooner our economy will get a boost. And it would then give us in Washington more time to work together on that long-range plan to bring down deficits in a balanced way: Tax reform, working on entitlements, and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we can keep investing in things like education and research that make us strong.

So those are the choices that we have. And understand this was a central question in the election — maybe the central question in the election. You remember. We talked about this a lot. (Laughter.) It wasn’t like this should come as a surprise to anybody. We had debates about it. There were a lot of TV commercials about it. And at the end of the day, a clear majority of Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents — they agreed with a balanced approach to deficit reduction and making sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up. Folks agreed to that.

Now, the good news is we’re starting to see a few Republicans coming around to it, too — I’m talking about Republicans in Congress. So the reason I’m here is because I want the American people to urge Congress soon, in the next week, the next two weeks, to begin the work we have by doing what we all agree on. Both parties agree that we should extend the middle-class tax cuts. We’ve got some disagreements about the high-end tax cuts, right? Republicans don’t want to raise taxes on folks like me; I think I can pay a little bit more to make sure that kids can go to college and we can build roads and invest in NIH so that we’re finding cures for Alzheimer’s. And that’s a disagreement that we’re going to have and we’ve got to sort out.

But we already all agree, we say, on making sure middle-class taxes don’t go up, so let’s get that done. Let’s go ahead and take the fear out for the vast majority of American families so they don’t have to worry about $2,000 coming out of their pockets starting next year.

The Senate has already passed a bill to keep income taxes from going up on middle-class families. That’s already passed the Senate. Your member of Congress like Allyson and Chaka, other Democrats in the House, they’re ready to go. They’re ready to vote on that same thing. And if we can just get a few House Republicans on board, we can pass the bill in the House. It will land on my desk, and I am ready — I’ve got a bunch of pens ready to sign this bill. (Laughter.) I’m ready to sign it. (Applause.) There are no shortage of pens in the White House. (Laughter.) And I carry one around for an emergency just in case, just waiting for the chance to use it to sign this bill to make sure people’s taxes don’t go up.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!

THE PRESIDENT: Well, don’t thank me yet, because I haven’t signed it. (Laughter.) I need some help from Congress.

So the key is, though, that the American people have to be involved. It’s not going to be enough for me to just do this on my own. So I’m hopeful that both sides are going to come together and do the right thing, but we all know you can’t take anything for granted when it comes to Washington. Let’s face it. And that’s why I’m going to be asking for all of you to make your voices heard over the next few days and the next couple of weeks.

I need you to remind members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — to not get bogged down in a bunch of partisan bickering, but let’s go ahead and focus on the people who sent us to Washington and make sure that we’re doing the right thing by them.

So I want you to call, I want you to send an email, post on their Facebook wall. If you tweet, then use a hashtag we’re calling “My2K.” Not Y2K, “My2K,” all right? Because it’s about your “2K” in your pocket. (Laughter.) We’re trying to burn that into people’s minds here. (Applause.)

So in the meantime I’m doing my part. I’m meeting with every constituency group out there. We’re talking to CEOs. We’re talking to labor groups. We’re talking to civic groups. I’m talking to media outlets, just explaining to the American people this is not that complicated. Let’s make sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up. Let’s get that done in the next couple of weeks.

Let’s also work together on a fair and balanced, responsible plan so that we are paying our bills — we’re not spending on things we don’t need, but we are still spending on the things that make us grow. That’s the kind of fair, balanced, responsible plan that I talked about during the campaign, and that’s what the majority of Americans believe in.

So I’m hopeful, but I’m going to need folks like you, the people here in Hatfield and here in Pennsylvania and all across the country, to get this done. And a lot is riding on this debate. This is too important to our economy, it’s too important for our families to not get it done. And it’s not acceptable to me, and I don’t think it’s acceptable to you, for just a handful of Republicans in Congress to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they don’t want tax rates on upper-income folks to go up. All right? That doesn’t make sense. (Applause.)

If your voices are heard, then we can help businesses like this one. We’re going to sell a whole bunch of K’NEX. (Laughter and applause.) Let’s give families all across America the kind of security and certainty that they deserve during the holiday season. Let’s keep our economy on the right track. Let’s stand up for the American belief that each of us have our own dreams and aspirations, but we’re also in this together, and we can work together in a responsible way; that we’re one people, and we’re one nation.

That’s what this country is about. That’s what all of you deserve. That’s what I’m fighting for every single day, and I will keep fighting for as long as I have the privilege of being your President.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the America. (Applause.)

END
12:19 P.M. EST

Political Headlines November 29, 2012: Speaker John Boehner on Fiscal Cliff: ‘White House Has to Get Serious’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner on Fiscal Cliff: ‘White House Has to Get Serious’

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-29-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans and Democrats may be privately working to avoid the fiscal cliff, but in public they’re digging into opposing positions on the all-important issue of tax rates for the wealthiest two percent of Americans. And leaders from both parties say they want a “serious proposal” from the other side.

“No substantive progress has been made on the fiscal cliff negotiations,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after a short phone conversation with President Obama Wednesday night and a meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Thursday morning….READ MORE

%d bloggers like this: