WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama is willing to compromise with Republicans in order to come up with a solution to deal with the impending “fiscal cliff.”
“I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan,” Obama said in a speech at the White House Friday. “I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas.”
But the president is still insisting on raising taxes on Americans making more than $250,000 a year.
“We have to combine spending cuts with revenue and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes,” Obama said, lumping himself as part of the wealthy willing to pay more, adding that he wants to extend middle class tax cuts.
Obama said his plan is how Democrats did it “in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president.”
“The majority of Americans agree with my approach,” Obama said.
Obama also said that he invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week to sit down and try to hash out a deal.
Earlier Friday, House Speaker John Boehner insisted that any deal with Obama to avert the so-called fiscal cliff must include lower tax rates, eliminating special interest loopholes and reining in government-benefit programs.
“2013 should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform,” Boehner said.
Boehner and Obama have taken the initial steps in high-stakes negotiations over how to deal with expiring Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs that economists warn could plunge the nation into another recession.
Boehner, Obama, and Senate leaders face a Jan. 2 deadline to reach an agreement or at least come up with a framework to deal with the issue early next year.
Boehner expressed a degree of optimism about resolving the issues and ensuring that his sometimes reluctant GOP rank and file will back any deal.
“When the president and I have come to an agreement, there’s been no problem getting it passed in the House,” Boehner said.
The speaker declined to discuss specifics on deficit targets or what tax loopholes to eliminate though he cited both corporate and individual.
“I don’t want to box myself in. I don’t want to box anyone else in,” he said.
Boehner indicated that increasing the nation’s borrowing authority, which was a divisive issue in August 2011 talks, should be part of any talks in the coming weeks on avoiding the fiscal cliff. The government has said the nation won’t reach the debt limit until the spring.
“It’s an issue that’s going to have to be addressed, sooner rather than later,” he said.
Boehner said he had a brief, cordial conversation with Obama earlier in the week and reiterated that the president needs to lead on the negotiations.
Democrats have resisted including entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security in any deficit-cutting deal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier this week they were unwilling to make changes in Social Security.
Boehner insisted that the programs need to be on the table.
“It’s not like there is money in Social Security and Medicare” trust fund, Boehner said. “This has to be dealt with.”
The Ohio Republican, reflecting the sentiment of his caucus, said increasing the maximum 35 percent tax rate on high-income earners cannot be part of the deal. Boehner did signal that he was open to eliminating loopholes.
“The problem with raising tax rates on wealthy Americans is that more than half of them are small business owners,” Boehner said. “Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want.”
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