President Obama: Wealthy Must See Higher Taxes Under Plan
President Barack Obama says raising taxes on wealthiest Americans must be part of deficit reduction plan but says he is "open to compromise" and "new ideas." Obama says he will refuse to accept any approach that "isn't balanced."
Obama says in his first public comments since the election that Congress should pass a bill that would prevent Bush-era tax cuts from expiring for all but the wealthiest Americans. He says lawmakers from both parties need to work together to tackle the nation's fiscal problems.
"Last year I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars 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."
The president says he is inviting congressional leaders of both parties to the White House next week for talks on how to avoid the fiscal cliff.
"It's time to get back to work, and there's plenty of work to do. As I said Tuesday night, the American people voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. In that spirit I have 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."
Lawmakers face a Jan. 2 deadline to reach an agreement. (AP)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on the fiscal cliff:
"On Tuesday, Americans from across the political spectrum made it clear that they want a balanced approach to tax policy that asks millionaires and billionaires to pay a little bit more. The sooner Republicans come to grips with this reality, the sooner we can forge an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff and prevent a tax hike on middle class Americans.
"The Senate passed a bill to cut taxes for Americans making less than $250,000, and the House should pass it immediately. Our bill cuts taxes for small businesses. When Republicans talk about small businesses, they are really trying to protect millionaires like Donald Trump.
"It is time for us to put politics aside and give the American people the balanced approach they are demanding. I am optimistic that we can meet this challenge before the end of the year."
President Obama will hold a news conference on Wednesday, his first since being re-elected to a second term.
White House press secretary Jay Carney says Obama will take questions from reporters on a variety of topics in the White House East Room. The news conference will take place two days before Obama meets with congressional leaders Nov. 16 on the fiscal cliff, the combination of pending tax increases and spending cuts that could plunge the economy back into a recession.
Obama has not taken questions from the White House media corps since August, when he made a surprise visit to the White House briefing room and took questions from four reporters.