President Obama: Everybody’s taxes will increase if Congress fails to pass deficit reduction package by Dec. 31
Edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks at a press briefing on the economy and fiscal cliff on Nov. 9, 2012:
Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody.
Now that those of us on the campaign trail have had a chance to get a little sleep, it’s time to get back to work and there’s plenty of work to do.
As I said on Tuesday night, the American people voted for action – not politics as usual.
You elected us to focus on your jobs – not ours.
And in that spirit, I’ve invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week so we can start to build consensus around the challenges that we can only solve together.
And I also intend to bring in business, labor, and civic leaders from all across the country here to Washington to get their ideas and input as well.
You know, at a time when our economy’s still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth.
That’s the focus of the plan that I talked about during the campaign.
It’s a plan that rewards small businesses and manufacturers that create jobs here – not overseas.
It’s a plan to give people the chance to get education and training businesses are looking for right now.
It’s a plan to make sure this country is a global leader in research and technology and clean energy, which will attract new companies and high-wage jobs to America.
It’s a plan to put folks back to work, including our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges and other infrastructure.
And it’s a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.
Our work is made that much more urgent because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that will require us to make major decisions about how to pay our deficits down – decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle-class, both now and in the future.
Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollar worth of spending that we just couldn’t afford.
I intend to work with both parties to do more, and that includes making reforms that will bring down the cost of health care so we can strengthen programs like Medicaid and Medicare for the long haul.
But, as I’ve said before, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.
If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue, and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.
That’s how we did it in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was President. That’s how we can reduce the deficit while still making the investments we need to build a strong middle-class and a strong economy.
That’s the only way we can still afford to train our workers or help our kids pay for college or to make sure that good jobs and clean energy or high tech manufacturing don’t end up in countries like China.
Now, already I’ve put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.
I want to be clear: I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan. I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas. I’m committed to solving our fiscal challenges.
But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I’m not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I’m not going to do that.
And I just want to point out that this was a central question in the election. It was debated over and over again.
And on Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach, and that includes Democrats, Independents, and a lot of Republicans across the country as well as independent economists and budget experts. That’s how you reduce the deficit – with a balanced approach.
So our job now is to get a majority in Congress to reflect the will of the American people, and I believe we can get that majority.
I was encouraged to hear Speaker [John] Boehner agree that tax revenue has to be part of this equation. So I look forward to hearing his ideas when I see him next week.
Let me make one final point that every American needs to hear:
Right now, if Congress fails to come to an agreement on an overall deficit reduction package by the end of the year, everybody’s taxes will automatically go up on Jan. 1st. Everybody’s – including the 98% of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year.
And that makes no sense. It would be bad for the economy and would hit families that are already struggling to make ends meet.
Now fortunately, we shouldn’t need long negotiations or drama to solve that part of the problem.
While there may be disagreements in Congress over whether or not to raise taxes on folks making over $250,000 a year, nobody – not Republicans, not Democrats – want taxes to go up for folks making under $250,000 a year. So let’s not wait.
Even as we’re negotiating a broader deficit reduction package, let’s extend the middle-class tax cuts right now. Let’s do that right now.
That one step – that one step would give millions of families – 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses – the certainty that they need going into the new year.
It would immediately take a huge chunk of the economic uncertainty off the table, and that would lead to new jobs and faster growth.
Businesses will know that consumers – they’re not going to see a big tax increase. They’ll know that most small businesses won’t see a tax increase. And so a lot of the uncertainty that you’re reading about, that will be removed.
In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill doing exactly this. So all we need is action from the House. And I’ve got the pen ready to sign the bill right away. I’m ready to do it. I’m ready to do it.
Now, the American people understand that we’re going to have differences and disagreements in the months to come. They get that.
But on Tuesday, they said loud and clear that they won’t tolerate dysfunction. They won’t tolerate politicians who view compromise as a dirty word – not when so many Americans are still out of work, not when so many families and small business owners are still struggling to pay the bills.
What the American people are looking for is cooperation; they’re looking for consensus; they’re looking for common sense. Most of all, they want action. I intend to deliver for them in my second term, and I expect to find willing partners in both parties to make that happen. So let’s get to work.
Thank you very much, everybody.
- WhiteHouse.gov: Video of President Barack Obama’s remarks on the economy and deficit on Nov. 9, 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: Obama wins re-election, renews call for bipartisanship to solve nation’s debt problem
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: House Majority Leader John Boehner’s post-election press briefing
- WhatTheFolly.com: Election 2012: Transcript of President Barack Obama’s re-election victory speech
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s post-election press briefing
- WhatTheFolly.com: House GOP rejects Senate tax cut extension bill
- WhatTheFolly.com: Senate Democrats pass middle-class tax cut