January 1st, 2013
11:41 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama calls for less 'drama,' 'brinkmanship'

(CNN) - President Barack Obama called late Tuesday for Congress to employ "a little less drama, a little less brinkmanship and scare folks a little less" in future fiscal dealings, as he and Congress consider the prospect of working together again to avoid future economic crises.

"While I will negotiate over many things, I won't have another debate with this Congress on whether they should pay the bills we racked up in the past," he said.

Obama spoke at the White House shortly after the House passed a scaled-back deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. The deal was passed earlier by the Senate and goes next to Obama's desk.

A full transcript of his remarks is after the jump.

President Barack Obama: "A central premise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy at the expense of working, middle class Americans. Tonight we've done that. Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans while preventing a middle class tax hike that could have sent the economy back into recession and obviously had a severe impact on families all across America. I want to thank all the leaders of the House and Senate. In particular I want to thank the work that was done by my extraordinary vice president, Joe Biden, as well as Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. Everyone worked really hard and once again, Joe, I want to thank you for your great work.

"Under this law more than 98 % of Americans and 97% of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up. Millions of families will continue to receive tax credits to help raise their kids and send them to college. Companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research they do, the investments they make and the clean energy jobs they create. And 2 million Americans who are out of work but out there looking pounding the pavement every day are going to continue to receive unemployment benefits as long as they're actively looking for a job.

"But I think we all recognize this law is just one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy and broaden opportunity for everybody. The fact is the deficit is still too high. And we're still investing too little in the things that we need for the economy to grow as fast as it should. And that's why Speaker Boehner and I originally tried to negotiate a larger agreement that would put this country on a path that paying down its debt while also putting Americans back to work, rebuilding our roads and bridges and providing investments in areas like education and job training. Unfortunately there just wasn't enough support or time for that kind of large agreement in a lame duck session of Congress. And that failure comes with a cost, as the messy nature of the process over the past several weeks has made business more uncertain and consumers less confident. But we are continuing to chip away at this problem step by step. Last year I signed into law $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. Tonight's agreement further reduces the deficit by raising $620 billion in revenue from the wealthiest households in america and there will be more deficit reduction as Congress decides what to do about the automatic spending cuts that we have now delayed for two months.

"As I've demonstrated throughout the past several weeks, I am very open to compromise. I agree with Democrats and Republicans that the aging population and the rising cost of health care makes Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit. I believe we've got to find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors, who couldn't on it to survive. And I believe there's further unnecessary spending in government that we can eliminate. But we can't simply cut our way to prosperity. Cutting spending has to go hand in hand with further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individual can take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren't available to most Americans and we can't keep cutting things like basic research and new technology and still expect to succeed in the 21st century economy. So we're going to have to continue to move forward in deficit reduction but we have to do it in a balanced way, making sure that we are growing, even as we get a handle on our spending.

"Now, one last point I want to make. While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they passed. Let me repeat: We can't not pay bills that we've already incurred. If Congress refuses to give the united states government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic, far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff. People will remember back in 2011 the last time this course of action was threatened, our entire recovery was put at risk. Consumer confidence plunged, business investment plunged, growth dropped. We can't go down that path again. And today's agreement enshrines, I think, a principle into law that will remain in place as long as I am president: The deficit needs to be reduced in way that's balanced. Everyone pays their fair share. Everyone does their part. That's how our economy works best. That's how we grow. The sum total of all the budget agreements we've reached so far proves that there is a path forward that, it is possible if we focus not on our politics but what's - but on what's right for the country.

"And the one thing that I think hopefully in the new year we'll focus on is seeing if we can put a package like this together with a little bit less drama, a little bit less brinksmanship, not scare the heck out of folks quite as much. We can come together as Democrats and Republicans to cult cut spending and raise revenue in a way that reduces our deficit, protects the middle class and provides ladders into the middle class for everybody who is willing to work hard. We can set this will debate or at the very least into the allow it to be so all consuming all the time that it stops us from meeting a host of other challenges that we face, creating jobs, boosting incomes, fixing our infrastructure, fixing our immigration system, protecting our planet from the harmful effects of climate change, boosting domestic energy production, protecting our kids from the horrors of gun violence. It's not just possible to do these things, it's an obligation to ourselves and to future generations, and I look forward to working with every single member of Congress to meet this obligation in the new year.

"And I hope that everybody now gets at least a day off, I guess, or a few days off so that people can refresh themselves because we're going to have a lot of work to do in 2013. "


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • President Obama
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Ind.

    A shoved through bill that adds to the debt. BIG SURPRISE.

    January 1, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  2. plain&simple

    Now It's Obama's turn to deliver his parties solutions to the spending cuts republicans will be looking for in return for the open floor vote.....interesting times and Obama's legacy will be determined over these next few months. Appears the extreme right and left are not happy with what has come to pass and the will to keep compromise alive is needed now more than ever.

    January 1, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  3. NotFooledByDistractions

    I agree with the President. It's ridiculous how our congress works. We elect them to work in the best interests of the nation – yet they seldom do. The republicans are particularly guilty – their pledge to grover norquist over the best interests of the nation and the rest of us is disgraceful.

    January 2, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  4. kathy/Minnesota

    Great job, Mr. President I was really impressed when the President said and repeated, he will not debate with congress about paying bills they have already racked up. He set the tone and gives some insight, that he is serious and if the GOP want, and if congress refuses,... well then they will have to face and explain to all their wall street buddies.

    January 2, 2013 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  5. noteasilyswayed

    Grover Norquist has to eat his own excrement that he created; LOL

    January 2, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  6. Pritka

    Get it Congress? Less Drama, more work, more compromise. Do your jobs and do them well. Stop pandering to lobbyists and ALEC and the far right and left and take care of the business of the people on time with humor and seriousness and sincerity and you just might save your jobs because we are more than disappointed, we are angry.

    January 2, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  7. Nat

    Yay! Both parties finally came together. Now let's just do this without the vitriol for the next 4 years. We can if we want to.

    January 2, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  8. RichS

    Goodbye jobs.

    January 2, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  9. TH Wheeler

    I sincerely wish the Republicans would stop their constant forecast of "gloom and doom" for our country. I've heard this for the last 4 years and quite frankly I would prefer they work with the President, after all he did win the presidency. Stop listening to Fox news and all of their one sided views. There is nothing wrong with putting a deal TOGETHER, working TOGETHER, its called comprise. And in our democracy that is the way it is supposed to work. After all that is the reason we vote these politicians in office and they must always remember this country is a government of the people by the people and for the people.

    January 2, 2013 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  10. Antonio M.

    I think most of americans agree with the president on this one. Maybe not the top 2% of Americans that the republican party seems to be working for the most. If the republicans keep this up I think the next major election will reflect their cluelessness. I know it takes two to Tango but from what I have seen there has been more deals going the republicans way getting shot down. My prediction is the House will go back to the Democrats if they don't nock those chips of their shoulders soon.

    We seem to go into recession and debt every time the republicans have power in the White house. It's proven that raising taxs on the top 5+% work. Look at the Clinton years. Republicans love to try to scare and lie to Americans about the facts. Were not stupid and until they get that through their heads their not going to have control of the White House again.

    January 2, 2013 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  11. Name

    I thank God that in the struggling to maintain a stable economy, the Black and White keys have blended in perfectly and a deal has been reached. The sky is never the last frontier.

    January 2, 2013 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  12. Obi_donkenobi

    Obama is the MAN! And Congress seems to have grown up and gotten back to work (maybe). Time will tell...

    January 2, 2013 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    If I have the data correctly the sequester original demanded 494bn of cuts in spending bt dems and the same out of defense by republicans.
    The democrats and Obama need to put out a plan that saves that 494bn and then challenge to the republicand to cone up with it out of defense and tax increases on corporates by closing loop holes and eliminating out of date tax breaks.
    I do want one thing to stop the constan t cry from republicans for obama to be the legislator its not the presidents job. Thats mainly re spending up to the House and McConnel especially needs to shut up on this tack as the Americans i know think he's nuts with the multiple variations of this line that he has espoused over and over again.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    January 2, 2013 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  14. Marcia

    Wonderful job Dems, and all the Republicans that FINALLY acted responsibly, for compromise in the interest of the health of this country and this economy. Nobody got everything they wanted, but we moved beyond this crisis and hopefully the US markets will continue to prosper as they have under Obama. Enjoy the rest of your vacation, Mr. President. May we all have a wonderful '2013 with continued progress and bipartisanship.

    January 2, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  15. Gabby

    He really isn't very bright is he?

    January 2, 2013 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  16. William R. Hill

    It's too bad that the vision of most politicians extends only to the next election. The electorate has a right to expect those who are elected and appointed to govern do so in a responsible and business-like way. The current piece-meal,combative, kicking cans down the road is a disgrace and makes our country a laughing stock around the world. Perhaps a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would help, one that withholds pay and allowances from Congressional members until they do their job. Replacing the insane tax code is essential, with a flat tax for individuals with no deductions and perhaps a few wrinkles for business and industry to encourage investment and growth and protect those that lose money. One objective would be to put most of the professional tax preparers out of business and save the average taxpayer a lot of money. Something that seems to have been forgotten in all the squabbling is that an important function of government should be to create a positive climate for private investment. Investment hates the uncertain climate prevailing in government today.

    January 2, 2013 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  17. marita

    It will be the same mess in 2013 than it was in 2012!! I have finally lost confidence in all of them!! – @Marita.

    January 2, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Something was passed. I hope that there is more communication between the Republicans and the President in the up coming Congress. I would hope that there is less of this last minute foolishness.

    January 2, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  19. Name lynn

    obama is a peaceful man them white house leaders an them republicans was trying to break obama kool they didnt thats why all of them is mad at obama hes a laid back and a peaceful man an them republicans nor them white house leaders couldnt push obama bottons hes still smiling

    January 2, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |