Obama: Boehner proposal 'out of balance'
December 4th, 2012
03:00 PM ET
1 year ago

Obama: Boehner proposal 'out of balance'

Washington (CNN) - In an extended television interview with Bloomberg News Tuesday, President Barack Obama said the "potential" for a deal to avoid the looming fiscal cliff remains, but that House Speaker John Boehner's initial offer is "still out of balance."

"The issue right now that's relevant is the acknowledgement that if we're going to raise revenues that are sufficient to balance with very tough cuts that we've already made and the further reforms in entitlements that I'm prepared to make, that we're going to have to see the rates on the top two percent go up and we're not going to be able to get a deal without it," the president said.

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Pushing back against claims that this insistence on raising tax rates for wealthier Americans is "stubborn" or "partisan," Obama told Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman that his position is "just a matter of math."

"What I'm going to need, what the country needs, what the business community needs, in order to get to where we need to be is an acknowledgement that folks like me can afford to pay a little bit higher rate if we combine that with a tax reform process and entitlement reform, then we can get to a $4 trillion deficit reduction package that actually helps our economy grow rather than weakens our economy either in the short term or the long term," Obama said.

Asked if he would accept raising tax rates on the top 2% to a point slightly lower than the 39.6% rate they would automatically return to if the Bush-era tax rates were allowed to expire, the president demurred. Finding some savings in federal entitlement programs and allowing rates on high-income earners to increase at the end of 2012 is just the first step in a process, he said.

The second step would be a more specific discussion to hammer out the details of comprehensive tax and entitlement reform. In the president's scenarios, this second step would occur by late 2013, and he signaled a willingness to bring rates back down at that time if such a move was accompanied by a simplification of the tax code.

"Within that framework I am happy to be flexible," Obama said. "I recognize I'm not going to get a hundred percent, but what I'm not going to do is to agree to a plan in which we have some revenue that is vague and potentially comes out of the pockets of middle class families in exchange for some very specific and tough entitlement cuts."

Obama's first interview since securing re-election came the day after members of Congress were invited to the White House for a holiday party Monday night. Various sources told CNN that Obama and Boehner didn't speak at the annual social event, but the president dismissed the suggestion that this is a symbol of the status of his relationship with the Republicans' chief negotiator.

"Speaker Boehner and I speak frequently," Obama said. "I don't think that the issue right now has to do with sitting in a room."

The president also addressed a few personnel issues, saying he'd "love" to bring more business leaders into his administration over the next four years, but an increasingly onerous Senate confirmation process has been an obstacle to recruitment.

"For successful folks to want to put themselves through that process – a lot of folks are just shying away," Obama said. "You have to put your life on hold. You may end up getting caught up in some partisan battle up on the Hill that has nothing to do with your own qualifications."

The president later recognized that his relationship with the business community "sometimes was skewed" during his first term, but he said that working with CEOs to expand private-sector growth across the board would continue to be a priority.

And on the controversial issue of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice's potential nomination to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, the president said he hasn't been influenced by the public debate.

"I don't really spend a lot of time on what folks say on cable news programs attacking highly-qualified personnel like Susan Rice," the president said. "I'm going to make a decision about who's going to be the best secretary of state."


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • President Obama
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. ST

    Mr. President, hold your guns tightly, you do not have the third term. Do what people re-elected you to do and what is right for them. Poll after poll shows you have full support. Nothing to worry about.

    December 4, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Obubba

    the stupid idiot in the white house caused this problem, so let him go over the the cliff so he can be impeached and let him do what he does best..nothing

    December 4, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    The dictator in chief thinks someone else is out of balance?

    Obama is out of reality.

    December 4, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. rs

    See, and people say Mr. Obama isn't sensitive to the nneds and desires of the GOP.If it were me I wouldn't have said :"House Speaker John Boehner's initial offer is "still out of balance."

    I would have said:"the GOP has lost all freakin' sense of reality, and are now crazier than the Taliban".

    You guys just don't have an appreciation of just how good you have it. Wait until the voters get a hold of you!

    December 4, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. sonny chapman

    It's Arithmetic !–Bill Clinton. The Repubs. have declared War on Math AND Science.

    December 4, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    Repubs. have taken their Political Ideology to the level of a Religious Theology. Very Dangerous in a Secular Democracy.

    December 4, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. V

    Hang tight Mr. President. We have your back!! And THANK YOU for looking out for us!

    Signed: The Middle Class

    December 4, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    The 400 riches Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 150 million (half the US population). Do the millionaires and billionaires really need a tax cut? President Obama is correct to seek fairness in our tax system.

    December 4, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Christian

    The American public is behind this tax rate. The rich have made record profits and need to pay their fair share. And finally Obama is being stubborn about it, since he learned the hard way that republicans don't respect moderate offers of compromise.

    December 4, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. Lisa P

    So I guess now would be a great time for Speaker Boehner to specify which deductions and loopholes he would like to close, to demonstrate that he's not trying to shift the Federal tax burden further on the middle class and away from the 1%...
    ...
    ...
    ...
    ... Speaker Boehner? Speaker Boehner, are you there? Funny how you're always talking about what *other* people should do but you're so quiet when it's time to do something yourself. If you want to be remembered as anything but the chief clown in the Republican congressional clown show you'll have to put a serious and detailed proposal on the table.

    December 4, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Simple Math. The Republicans still haven't run the numbers. Instead they've been using "dynamic scaling"////or whatever it is that they call it....to create "growth numbers" that balance their budgets.

    December 4, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. Robert

    If your not making over $250,000 a year then you have know business supporting the repub's ideas. Look people, you have to have more revenue coming in the door to help fix this problem, Bottom line!! We also have to cut in spending which the repubs are right. But for them to sit here and hold the country hostage for the weathest 2% of americans is unamerican. If they really cared about the middle class they would sign a bill know to protect the middle class and deal with who's going to pay more next year. But no!! That will give them the disadvantage in negotation. It's unamerican people. For those of you who make 15,000 thousand a year, Live paycheck to paycheck and when you open up your pockets and lint comes out, think about whats the real reason you don't like Obama. I already know!.

    December 4, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'm not of the 1%, like some of you, in fact I am part of the Middle Class and I voted Obama to strenghten the Middle Class and not for a Republican to give to the 1%. But if I ever become part of the 1%, I'll fight to the end to keep the rest of you out.

    December 4, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. steve harnack

    The sooner that the GOP realizes that rates going up on the top 2% is a line in the sand that Obama ran on and got reelected on the sooner they can join the rest of the country. Romney's campaign tried to get some mileage out of saying that the President hadn't kept or fulfilled all of his campaign promises from 2004, well, this is one promise that is going to be kept. I think that it will take about one paycheck with the higher tax rates on the middle class for the GOP to be REALLY the party of the 2%.

    December 4, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. robbfromok

    obubba – yeah it' the administrations fault right? The previous administration did nothing to cause this right? even though it happened under bush's watch, while the republican controlled house backed him without question. It had nothing to do with borrowing from social security to finance conflicts with a scorched earth campaigns in 2 places at once. One which eventually accomplished by patience and a much smaller effort, by the brave troops of seal team six. The other searching for weapons of mass destruction that never surfaced, cost thousands of american lives, and was done against the recommendations of the u.n. must be nice to live in a world where your memories are wiped out, for the convenience of being able to blindly listen to roven-tology.

    December 4, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. Bob

    The republican congressmen and their supporters are stup1d puppets in the hands of Norquist. They don't have a brain for themselves. One man decides for them and they all follow.

    December 4, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. BLKMANinAmerica

    Once AGAIN the repuks in Congress continue to show American's that frankly they (repuks) do not care about the American people only the 1%. WHY on earth are the American people paying these folks in Congress to NOT WORK for us? WHY not fire them and find someone that will work for the American people not just the 1%?

    December 4, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. just a believer

    people in power with money dont feel that they should not pay higher taxes but everyone else should that s not fair i read that a rich man will not enter the kingdom of heaven and i wonder why creed and pride is so important to them but they will find out how god works and they will see his power come into play he makes no mistakes in what he does look who is our president everything is done in his own time and the g o p s will find out who he is be careful what you do and say just saying he s watching you and what you are doing be very careful what you say and do you have no clue what will happen just saying

    December 4, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. BigD

    So let me understand this, Leftards, who can't take care of themselves are calling Conservatives brainless because we can take care of ourselves without Government assistance & Leftards want to raise taxes while not cutting back on the spending that is bankrupting our country. Hmmmm, sounds to me like the Leftarded sheep need to go get a job & learn to live within their own means. Wow, what a concept. Leftards are destroying this country & trying to sell yourselves on the fact that Conservatives are the problem, well, good luck with that.

    December 4, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. Yonni

    How we end up with the current Republican Party in the 21st century is a misty. They wasted our decade with war and blood shade squandered our wealth and obstructed science and technology advancement for a decade. The middle class become in survival mode. The anxiety and disparity is unbelievable. They don't mind if we spend nation building anywhere in the world but if we do it at home they will come with their confederate flag and hot screaming "I want my country back". I hope the end for the current Republican party is near; this shall pass soon.

    December 4, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. BigD

    Leftards are complete idiots. Their undying love for this loser of a President is comical. Yet, Conservatives are the problem with this country? Learn to take care of yourselves Leftards. I'm not responsible for you!!! You're not responsible for me!!! You're responsible for yourself!!!! Wow, what concept.

    December 4, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. BigD

    In 4 years, how many votes has Oweblamo budgets garnered by the House & Senate? Google it, 0.

    December 4, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. BigD

    Just a heads up for all you Leftards, Oweblamo cares nothing about you. All he cares about is himself.

    December 4, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. BigD

    Oweblamo is out of balance. In fact, he's the worst president in the History of this country. Our wonderful Government has overspent 10 fold & all you Leftards want to give our criminal politicians more money through tax revenue that none of us will ever benefit from. Talk about ignorant, Leftards are the epitome of ingnorant

    December 4, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. DaveinIL

    It's really a shame that Obama can convince so many fools that a liitle bit of extra tax on the rich will solve the problems his spending has created. The increase in rates he proposes would yield less than $100 billion per year against a budget that borrows $1+ trillion each year. That's only 10%! Go to your bank and ask them if you can borrow $100,000 every year for the next ten years and payback $10,000 every year while you do it. They'd be rolling on the floor laughing. And once Congress realizes that the 2% can't pay enough, they'll start looking at the 10% and then the 20% until they get to the 47% who don't pay income taxes.

    December 4, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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