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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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’

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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

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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

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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’

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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

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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

Full Text September 19, 2011: President Barack Obama Unveils $4 Trillion Economic Growth & Deficit Reduction Plan — $3 Trillion Deficit Cuts in Over 10 Years — $1.5 Trillion in New Taxes

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama announces his Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

President Barack Obama delivers a statement announcing his Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 19, 2011.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

Source: WH, 9-19-11

President Obama’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction — Full Text — PDF

The health of our economy depends on what we do right now to create the conditions where businesses can hire and middle-class families can feel a basic measure of economic security. In the long run, our prosperity also depends on our ability to pay down the massive debt the federal government has accumulated over the past decade. Today, the President sent to the Joint Committee his plan to jumpstart economic growth and job creation now – and to lay the foundation for it to continue for years to come.

The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction lives up to a simple idea: as a Nation, we can live within our means while still making the investments we need to prosper – from a jobs bill that is needed right now to long-term investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure. It follows a balanced approach: asking everyone to do their part, so no one has to bear all the burden.  And it says that everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – has to pay their fair share.

Overall, it pays for the American Jobs Act and produces net savings of more than $3 trillion over the next decade, on top of the roughly $1 trillion in spending cuts that the President already signed into law in the Budget Control Act – for a total savings of more than $4 trillion over the next decade. This would bring the country to a place, by 2017, where current spending is no longer adding to our debt, debt is falling as a share of the economy, and deficits are at a sustainable level.

Now, let me review some of its main components.

First, the plan includes the American Jobs Act – a set of ideas supported by both Democrats and Republicans that will put people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. It’s imperative that we pass this bill now both to get the economy moving again and creating jobs at the pace we need it, and to help with deficit reduction since a growing economy is a vital part to reducing our deficits and debt.

Second, the plan lays out a way to live within our means so that we can invest in the things that will power economic growth for decades to come: education, innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure. To do this, it follows a balanced approach to deficit reduction by drawing from across the Budget for savings and by asking everyone to pay their fair share.

Specifically, the President is proposing approximately $580 billion in cuts and reforms to a wide range of mandatory programs from cuts to agricultural subsidies that are no longer necessary to reform of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and modest changes to federal civilian worker retirement and health benefits for military retirees.

In health care programs, the President is recommending a series of reforms that builds on the historic savings and reforms in the Affordable Care Act to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid so that these vital programs are robust and healthy to serve Americans for years to come.

These proposals will save $248 billion in Medicare and $72 billion in Medicaid and other health programs over 10 years, and extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by three years. This is accomplished in a way that does not shift risks unfairly onto the individuals they serve; slash benefits; or undermine the fundamental compact they represent to our Nation’s seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families. Any savings that affect beneficiaries do not begin until 2017 and do not affect middle-income and current beneficiaries. Other health and Medicaid savings amount to $72 billion, and because of the structural nature of these reforms to both programs, health savings grow to over $1 trillion in the second decade. Moreover, as he said today, the President will veto any bill that takes one dime from the Medicare benefits seniors rely on without asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.

The President’s plan reflects the Administration’s current policy of drawing down our troop presence in Afghanistan and the transition from a military to a civilian-led mission in Iraq for a savings of $1 trillion.

Finally, the President calls on the Committee to undertake comprehensive tax reform and lays out five key principles. Reform should: 1) lower tax rates; 2) cut wasteful loopholes and tax breaks; 3) reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion; 4) boost job creation and growth; and 5) comport with the “Buffett Rule” that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.

To advance this debate, the President is offering a detailed set of specific tax loophole closers and measures to broaden the tax base that, together with the expiration of the high-income tax cuts, would be more than sufficient to hit the $1.5 trillion target for additional revenue. These measures include cutting tax preferences for high-income households, eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies, closing the carried interest loophole for investment fund managers, and eliminating benefits for those who own corporate jets.

We have little doubt that some of these proposals will not be popular with many of those who benefit from these affected programs and currently enjoy special tax breaks. These are tough choices that we had to make — and some of these changes we are only putting forward to address our fiscal situation. But we are all in this together, and all of us must contribute to getting our economy moving again and on a firm fiscal footing.

If we don’t take a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes asking the wealthiest 2 percent of families and big corporations to pay their fair share, then everyone else must shoulder the load. That could mean drastic cuts to things like education, research and development, infrastructure, and food safety; and could mean severe cuts to Medicare that would burden seniors with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

Second, if we do nothing, our economy will not get the jolt it needs now and it will be weighed down by our debt or years to come. If we don’t take these steps now, it will only get harder.

I’ve been working on these issues for three decades, and I can tell you that making these changes in this plan will require some tough choices. Everyone will have a cut or a new policy that they do not like – or wish that they could avoid. But remember: the challenge we face is one that we all face – together – as Americans. We are in this together, and the only way that we can have a balanced approach is that we all do our part.

So read the plan, and join the debate about how we can jumpstart our economy, reduce our deficit, and win the future.

President Obama: Washington Has to Live within its Means

Source: WH, 9-19-11

President Obama today unveiled a plan for economic growth and deficit reduction that details how to pay for the American Jobs Act while also paying down our debt over time. The plan, which is being sent to the Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, offers a balanced approach to further reduce our nation’s deficit and get our fiscal house in order, based on the values of shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.

The President’s plan lays out a blueprint that will enable Washington to live within its means, something Americans across the country have been doing for years. And the balanced approach means that no one group has to bear the burden alone. It means that everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – has to pay their fair share.

The plan, which will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion, includes many of the proposals the President has previously discussed — closing tax loopholes for oil companies and hedge fund managers and asking the very wealthiest and special interests to pay their fair share. It also includes difficult spending cuts and making adjustments to strengthen programs like Medicare and Medicaid for future generations. As part of the plan, the President is also calling on Congress to undertake comprehensive tax reform to simplify the system, make it more fair and efficient, and lay a stronger foundation for economic growth:

It comes down to this: We have to prioritize. Both parties agree that we need to reduce the deficit by the same amount — by $4 trillion. So what choices are we going to make to reach that goal? Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both.

Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get. We can’t afford to do both.

This is not class warfare. It’s math. The money is going to have to come from someplace. And if we’re not willing to ask those who’ve done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit and we are trying to reach that same target of $4 trillion, then the logic, the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more: We’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor. We’ve got to scale back on the investments that have always helped our economy grow. We’ve got to settle for second-rate roads and second-rate bridges and second-rate airports, and schools that are crumbling.

That’s unacceptable to me. That’s unacceptable to the American people. And it will not happen on my watch. I will not support — I will not support — any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.

According to Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, taking the steps outlined in this plan would bring the country to a place, by 2017, where current spending is no longer adding to our debt, debt is falling as a share of the economy, and deficits are at a sustainable level.

You can read the entire proposal that was submitted to the Joint Committee or read an overview in this fact sheet

 

Full Text September 19, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Rose Garden Speech on Economy, American Jobs Act Introduces Deficit Reduction Plan, Including Tax Increases (Transcript)

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama discussed his deficit plan at the White House on Monday.

Remarks by the President on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

Source: WH, 9-19-11

Rose Garden

10:56 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please have a seat.

A week ago today, I sent Congress the American Jobs Act.  It’s a plan that will lead to new jobs for teachers, for construction workers, for veterans, and for the unemployed.  It will cut taxes for every small business owner and virtually every working man and woman in America.  And the proposals in this jobs bill are the kinds that have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past.  So there shouldn’t be any reason for Congress to drag its feet.  They should pass it right away.  I’m ready to sign a bill.  I’ve got the pens all ready.

Now, as I said before, Congress should pass this bill knowing that every proposal is fully paid for.  The American Jobs Act will not add to our nation’s debt.  And today, I’m releasing a plan that details how to pay for the jobs bill while also paying down our debt over time.

And this is important, because the health of our economy depends in part on what we do right now to create the conditions where businesses can hire and middle-class families can feel a basic measure of economic security.  But in the long run, our prosperity also depends on our ability to pay down the massive debt we’ve accumulated over the past decade in a way that allows us to meet our responsibilities to each other and to the future.

During this past decade, profligate spending in Washington, tax cuts for multi-millionaires and billionaires, the cost of two wars, and the recession turned a record surplus into a yawning deficit, and that left us with a big pile of IOUs.  If we don’t act, that burden will ultimately fall on our children’s shoulders.  If we don’t act, the growing debt will eventually crowd out everything else, preventing us from investing in things like education, or sustaining programs like Medicare.

So Washington has to live within its means.  The government has to do what families across this country have been doing for years.  We have to cut what we can’t afford to pay for what really matters.  We need to invest in what will promote hiring and economic growth now while still providing the confidence that will come with a plan that reduces our deficits over the long-term.

These principles were at the heart of the deficit framework that I put forward in April.  It was an approach to shrink the deficit as a share of the economy, but not to do so so abruptly with spending cuts that would hamper growth or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet.

It was an approach that said we need to go through the budget line-by-line looking for waste, without shortchanging education and basic scientific research and road construction, because those things are essential to our future.  And it was an approach that said we shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the middle class; that for us to solve this problem, everybody, including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, have to pay their fair share.

Now, during the debt ceiling debate, I had hoped to negotiate a compromise with the Speaker of the House that fulfilled these principles and achieved the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that leaders in both parties have agreed we need — a grand bargain that would have strengthened our economy, instead of weakened it.  Unfortunately, the Speaker walked away from a balanced package.  What we agreed to instead wasn’t all that grand.  But it was a start — roughly $1 trillion in cuts to domestic spending and defense spending.

Everyone knows we have to do more, and a special joint committee of Congress is assigned to find more deficit reduction. So, today, I’m laying out a set of specific proposals to finish what we started this summer — proposals that live up to the principles I’ve talked about from the beginning.  It’s a plan that reduces our debt by more than $4 trillion, and achieves these savings in a way that is fair — by asking everybody to do their part so that no one has to bear too much of the burden on their own.

All told, this plan cuts $2 in spending for every dollar in new revenues.  In addition to the $1 trillion in spending that we’ve already cut from the budget, our plan makes additional spending cuts that need to happen if we’re to solve this problem. We reform agricultural subsidies — subsidies that a lot of times pay large farms for crops that they don’t grow.  We make modest adjustments to federal retirement programs.  We reduce by tens of billions of dollars the tax money that goes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  We also ask the largest financial firms — companies saved by tax dollars during the financial crisis — to repay the American people for every dime that we spent.  And we save an additional $1 trillion as we end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These savings are not only counted as part of our plan, but as part of the budget plan that nearly every Republican on the House voted for.

Finally, this plan includes structural reforms to reduce the cost of health care in programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  Keep in mind we’ve already included a number of reforms in the health care law, which will go a long way towards controlling these costs.  But we’re going to have to do a little more.  This plan reduces wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments while changing some incentives that often lead to excessive health care costs.  It makes prescriptions more affordable through faster approval of generic drugs.  We’ll work with governors to make Medicaid more efficient and more accountable.  And we’ll change the way we pay for health care.  Instead of just paying for procedures, providers will be paid more when they improve results — and such steps will save money and improve care.

These changes are phased in slowly to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid over time.  Because while we do need to reduce health care costs, I’m not going to allow that to be an excuse for turning Medicare into a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry.  And I’m not going to stand for balancing the budget by denying or reducing health care for poor children or those with disabilities.  So we will reform Medicare and Medicaid, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment that this country has kept for generations.

And by the way, that includes our commitment to Social Security.  I’ve said before, Social Security is not the primary cause of our deficits, but it does face long-term challenges as our country grows older.  And both parties are going to need to work together on a separate track to strengthen Social Security for our children and our grandchildren.

So this is how we can reduce spending:  by scouring the budget for every dime of waste and inefficiency, by reforming government spending, and by making modest adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid.  But all these reductions in spending, by themselves, will not solve our fiscal problems.  We can’t just cut our way out of this hole.  It’s going to take a balanced approach.  If we’re going to make spending cuts — many of which we wouldn’t make if we weren’t facing such large budget deficits — then it’s only right that we ask everyone to pay their fair share.

You know, last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner gave a speech about the economy.  And to his credit, he made the point that we can’t afford the kind of politics that says it’s “my way or the highway.”  I was encouraged by that.  Here’s the problem: In that same speech, he also came out against any plan to cut the deficit that includes any additional revenues whatsoever.  He said — I’m quoting him — there is “only one option.”  And that option and only option relies entirely on cuts.  That means slashing education, surrendering the research necessary to keep America’s technological edge in the 21st century, and allowing our critical public assets like highways and bridges and airports to get worse.  It would cripple our competiveness and our ability to win the jobs of the future.  And it would also mean asking sacrifice of seniors and the middle class and the poor, while asking nothing of the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

So the Speaker says we can’t have it “my way or the highway,” and then basically says, my way — or the highway.  (Laughter.)  That’s not smart.  It’s not right.  If we’re going to meet our responsibilities, we have to do it together.

Now, I’m proposing real, serious cuts in spending.  When you include the $1 trillion in cuts I’ve already signed into law, these would be among the biggest cuts in spending in our history. But they’ve got to be part of a larger plan that’s balanced –- a plan that asks the most fortunate among us to pay their fair share, just like everybody else.

And that’s why this plan eliminates tax loopholes that primarily go to the wealthiest taxpayers and biggest corporations –- tax breaks that small businesses and middle-class families don’t get.  And if tax reform doesn’t get done, this plan asks the wealthiest Americans to go back to paying the same rates that they paid during the 1990s, before the Bush tax cuts.

I promise it’s not because anybody looks forward to the prospects of raising taxes or paying more taxes.  I don’t.  In fact, I’ve cut taxes for the middle class and for small businesses, and through the American Jobs Act, we’d cut taxes again to promote hiring and put more money into the pockets of people.  But we can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy -– rates, by the way, that were meant to be temporary.  Back when these first — these tax cuts, back in 2001, 2003, were being talked about, they were talked about temporary measures.  We can’t afford them when we’re running these big deficits.

Now, I am also ready to work with Democrats and Republicans to reform our entire tax code, to get rid of the decades of accumulated loopholes, special interest carve-outs, and other tax expenditures that stack the deck against small business owners and ordinary families who can’t afford Washington lobbyists or fancy accountants.  Our tax code is more than 10,000 pages long. If you stack up all the volumes, they’re almost five feet tall.  That means that how much you pay often depends less on what you make and more on how well you can game the system, and that’s especially true of the corporate tax code.

We’ve got one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, but it’s riddled with exceptions and special interest loopholes.  So some companies get out paying a lot of taxes, while the rest of them end up having to foot the bill.  And this makes our entire economy less competitive and our country a less desirable place to do business.

That has to change.  Our tax code shouldn’t give an advantage to companies with the best-connected lobbyists.  It should give an advantage to companies that invest in the United States of America and create jobs in the United States of America.  And we can lower the corporate rate if we get rid of all these special deals.

So I am ready, I am eager, to work with Democrats and Republicans to reform the tax code to make it simpler, make it fairer, and make America more competitive.  But any reform plan will have to raise revenue to help close our deficit.  That has to be part of the formula.  And any reform should follow another simple principle:  Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires.  That’s pretty straightforward.  It’s hard to argue against that.  Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.  There is no justification for it.

It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million.  Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out.  They should have to defend that unfairness — explain why somebody who’s making  $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that — paying a higher rate.  They ought to have to answer for it.  And if they’re pledged to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.

Now, we’re already hearing the usual defenders of these kinds of loopholes saying this is just “class warfare.”  I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare.  I think it’s just the right the thing to do.  I believe the American middle class, who’ve been pressured relentlessly for decades, believe it’s time that they were fought for as hard as the lobbyists and some lawmakers have fought to protect special treatment for billionaires and big corporations.

Nobody wants to punish success in America.  What’s great about this country is our belief that anyone can make it and everybody should be able to try -– the idea that any one of us can open a business or have an idea and make us millionaires or billionaires.  This is the land of opportunity.  That’s great.  All I’m saying is that those who have done well, including me, should pay our fair share in taxes to contribute to the nation that made our success possible.  We shouldn’t get a better deal than ordinary families get.  And I think most wealthy Americans would agree if they knew this would help us grow the economy and deal with the debt that threatens our future.

It comes down to this:  We have to prioritize.  Both parties agree that we need to reduce the deficit by the same amount — by $4 trillion.  So what choices are we going to make to reach that goal?  Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare.  We can’t afford to do both.

Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get.  We can’t afford to do both.

This is not class warfare.  It’s math.  (Laughter.)  The money is going to have to come from someplace.  And if we’re not willing to ask those who’ve done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit and we are trying to reach that same target of $4 trillion, then the logic, the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more:  We’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor.  We’ve got to scale back on the investments that have always helped our economy grow.  We’ve got to settle for second-rate roads and second-rate bridges and second-rate airports, and schools that are crumbling.

That’s unacceptable to me.  That’s unacceptable to the American people.  And it will not happen on my watch.  I will not support — I will not support — any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans.  And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.  We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.

None of the changes I’m proposing are easy or politically convenient.  It’s always more popular to promise the moon and leave the bill for after the next election or the election after that.  That’s been true since our founding.  George Washington grappled with this problem.  He said, “Towards the payment of debts, there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; [and] no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.”  He understood that dealing with the debt is — these are his words — “always a choice of difficulties.”  But he also knew that public servants weren’t elected to do what was easy; they weren’t elected to do what was politically advantageous.  It’s our responsibility to put country before party.  It’s our responsibility to do what’s right for the future.

And that’s what this debate is about.  It’s not about numbers on a ledger; it’s not about figures on a spreadsheet.  It’s about the economic future of this country, and it’s about whether we will do what it takes to create jobs and growth and opportunity while facing up to the legacy of debt that threatens everything we’ve built over generations.

And it’s also about fairness.  It’s about whether we are, in fact, in this together, and we’re looking out for one another.  We know what’s right.  It’s time to do what’s right.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
11:16 A.M. EDT

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