Full Text Obama Presidency December 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff Talks Urges Congress to Prevent Tax Hikes on Middle Class Americans — “Modestly Optimistic” about a “Fiscal Cliff” Deal

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Urges Congress to Prevent Tax Hikes on Middle Class Americans

Source: WH, 12-28-12

President Obama delivers a statement to the press, Dec. 28, 2012.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

With just four days left before tax rates are scheduled to rise, President Obama met with Senate and House leaders at the White House to talk about how Congress can prevent every American from seeing a smaller paycheck next week.

Speaking in the Brady Press Briefing room after that meeting, the President characterized the discussion as “good and constructive” and said that he is optimistic an agreement that can pass both houses will be reached in time. But he warned Congress that the American people are losing patience, and that they must act now:

if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can –- but we should let everybody vote.  That’s the way this is supposed to work. If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill.

Watch the President’s full remarks

Statement by the President

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

5:52 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. For the past couple of months, I’ve been working with leaders of both parties to try and forge an agreement that would grow our economy and shrink the deficit — a balanced plan that would cut spending in a responsible way but also ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, and, above all, protect our middle class and everybody who is striving to get into the middle class.

I still want to get this done. It’s the right thing to do for our families, for our businesses, and for our entire economy. But the hour for immediate action is here.  It is now.

We’re now at the point where, in just four days, every American’s tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. Every American’s paycheck will get considerably smaller.  And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy, it would be bad for middle-class families, and it would be bad for businesses that depend on family spending. Fortunately, Congress can prevent it from happening if they act right now.

I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time. Senators Reid and McConnell are working on such an agreement as we speak.

But if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote.  If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can –- but we should let everybody vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work.  If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill.

So the American people are watching what we do here. Obviously, their patience is already thin. This is déjà vu all over again. America wonders why it is that in this town, for some reason, you can’t get stuff done in an organized timetable; why everything always has to wait until the last minute. Well, we’re now at the last minute, and the American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. Not right now.

The economy is growing, but sustaining that trend is going to require elected officials to do their jobs. The housing market is recovering, but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already you’re seeing businesses and consumers starting to hold back because of the dysfunction that they see in Washington.

Economists, business leaders all think that we’re poised to grow in 2013 –- as long as politics in Washington don’t get in the way of America’s progress.

So we’ve got to get this done. I just want to repeat — we had a constructive meeting today.  Senators Reid and McConnell are discussing a potential agreement where we can get a bipartisan bill out of the Senate, over to the House and done in a timely fashion so that we’ve met the December 31st deadline. But given how things have been working in this town, we always have to wait and see until it actually happens. The one thing that the American people should not have to wait and see is some sort of action.

So if we don’t see an agreement between the two leaders in the Senate, I expect a bill to go on the floor — and I’ve asked Senator Reid to do this — put a bill on the floor that makes sure that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, that unemployment insurance is still available for two million people, and that lays the groundwork, then, for additional deficit reduction and economic growth steps that we can take in the New Year.

But let’s not miss this deadline.  That’s the bare minimum that we should be able to get done, and it shouldn’t be that hard since Democrats and Republicans both say they don’t want to see taxes go up on middle-class families.

I just have to repeat — outside of Washington, nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern over and over again.  Ordinary folks, they do their jobs. They meet deadlines. They sit down and they discuss things, and then things happen. If there are disagreements, they sort through the disagreements. The notion that our elected leadership can’t do the same thing is mind-boggling to them. It needs to stop.

So I’m modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved. Nobody is going to get 100 percent of what they want, but let’s make sure that middle-class families and the American economy — and, in fact, the world economy — aren’t adversely impacted because people can’t do their jobs.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END                5:57 P.M. EST

Political Headlines December 28, 2012: White House Fiscal Cliff Summit Brings Hope for a Deal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Fiscal Cliff Summit Brings Hope for a Deal

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-29-12

The White House

Washington brinkmanship appears to have created a last minute chance for the White House and Congress to agree on a plan to avoid sending the country over the fiscal cliff.

President Obama emerged from a White House summit Friday evening to say “we had a constructive meeting today” and that he was “optimistic” that they could devise a proposal ahead of a Jan. 1 deadline that would otherwise automatically trigger a wide range of higher taxes and steep budget cuts. Economists fear that such a combination could throw the country into a recession.

The president lamented that a deal is coming down to the final hours.

“The American people are watching what we do… (their) patience is already thin,” the president said. “It’s deja vu all over again.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 28, 2012: Congressional Leaders Invited to Oval Office for Fiscal Cliff Meeting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Congressional Leaders Invited to Oval Office for Fiscal Cliff Meeting

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-28-12

Washington hasn’t taken much action lately to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, but lawmakers have been doing a lot of talking about it.  And more talk is scheduled for Friday.

President Obama has invited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the White House Friday afternoon for a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss the issue.

A spokesman for Boehner says the speaker will stress at the meeting that “the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 27, 2012: White House Says It Has No New Fiscal Cliff Plan

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Says It Has No New Fiscal Cliff Plan

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-27-12

Edward Linsmier/Getty Images

The White House said on Friday it has no plans to offer new proposals to avoid the fiscal cliff which looms over the country’s economy just days away from now, but will meet Friday with Congressional leaders in a last ditch effort to forge a deal.

Republicans and Democrats made no conciliatory gestures in public on Thursday, despite the urgency.

The White House said President Obama would meet Friday with Democratic and Republican leaders. But a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said the Republican, “will continue to stress that the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 27, 2012: Harry Reid Goes After John Boehner at Fiscal Cliff’s Edge

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Reid Goes After Boehner at Cliff’s Edge

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-27-12

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

UPDATE: The House will return for legislative business on Sunday evening.

With only five days left before the federal government goes over the fiscal cliff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shattered any pretense of cooperation with Republicans in a scathing speech that targeted House Republicans and particularly Speaker John Boehner.

Reid, D-Nev., spoke on the floor of the Senate as President Obama returned to Washington early from an Hawaiian vacation in what appears to be a dwindling hope for a deal on taxes and spending cuts before the Jan. 1 deadline that will trigger tax increases and sharp spending cuts.

Boehner, however, has not returned to Washington from a Christmas break and has not called the House back into session….READ MORE

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