Obama ‘Campaigns’ on Fiscal Cliff Fix

Obama ‘Campaigns’ on Fiscal Cliff Fix

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At a campaign-style event on Wednesday, President Obama – flanked by middle-class Americans – called on Congress on to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those earning below $250,000, and insisted once more that Republicans let tax rates rise for the wealthiest. 

“Right now, as we speak, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. Everybody’s.  And that means that 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime ... Families and small businesses would, therefore, be able to enjoy some peace of mind heading into Christmas and heading into the New Year,” added Obama. “And it would give us more time then next year to work together on a comprehensive plan to bring down our deficits, to streamline our tax system, to do it in a balanced way – including asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, so that we can still invest in things like education and training, and science and research.”

Read the president’s speech here

BOEHNER TO GOP: STAY STRONG ON TAXES  House Speaker John Boehner quietly told House colleagues on Wednesday to stick together to keep tax rates frozen -- or be left out. The Speaker’s comment came after Rep. Tom Cole, R-Ok, floated the idea to go along with the president’s proposal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to 98 percent of taxpayers ahead of the Dec 31. deadline and deal with the other 2 percent of taxpayers down the road.

Read more at Politico 

BOWLES ON FLEXIBILITY  Erskine Bowles, one of the co-architects of the Simpson-Bowles budget reform plan, thinks the president is more flexible on tax rates than the White House leads on. After meeting with President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday, Bowles doesn’t expect tax rates on the nation’s top income earners to increase to the Clinton-era level of 39.6 percent.

American households currently pay a 33 percent tax rate on income above $250,000 and a 35 percent tax rate on income above roughly $388,000. But if Congress allows the rates to expire, they would reset to 36 percent and 39.6 percent, respectively. 

Bowles said White House officials made clear to him that the rates might not have to increase as much, as long as they increased a significant amount and were paired with some limits on tax breaks.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

SIMPSON TO THE RESCUE Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson and former co-chair of President Obama’s debt commission of 2010 vowed to “protect” GOP representatives who break away from conservative activist Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform anti-tax pledge. “We will protect them,” he said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast event on Wednesday. “Already the groups are circling.”

A long-time opponent of Norquist's pledge, Simpson said that politicians need to avoid “being enthralled to Norquist and the AARP over taxes and cuts to Medicare and Social Security,” The Hill newspaper reports. Simpson also said in a separate interview to MSNBC on Wednesday that Norquist is a “zealot” and “he will be irrelevant” before long.

Read more at The Hill 

For more news on the approaching fiscal cliff, follow us on Twitter @Fiscalcliffnote

Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.