U.S. President Barack Obama made a campaign-style trip Friday aimed at winning public support for his plan to avert a year-end crisis over government spending and tax policies.
Mr. Obama, newly re-elected, told toy factory workers in Pennsylvania that he thinks he and congressional lawmakers can reach a compromise to avoid $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect January 1. They are mandated policies that could send the country's fragile economy into a new recession if the president and his Republican opponents in Congress cannot agree on a new financial plan.
But the Democratic president said reaching a deal with Congress will not be easy, with both sides needing to make compromises.
“All of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen. I'm willing to do that and hopeful enough members of Congress in both parties are willing to do that as well.”
Mr. Obama again called on Congress to extend a tax cut for American households earning less than $250,000 a year, saying that if Congress does not act on the extension it “would be like the lump of coal you get for Christmas.” Republicans want to extend the tax cut for wealthier taxpayers as well, which Mr. Obama opposes.
The House Republican leader, Speaker John Boehner, said negotiations are at a stalemate and said the president's proposals are not a “serious” offer to settle the dispute.
“There's a stalemate. Let's not kid ourselves. Now I'm not trying to make this more difficult. If you've watched me over the last three weeks, I've been very guarded in what I've had to say, because I don't want to make it harder for me, or the president, or members of both parties to be able to find common ground. But when I came out the day after the election and make it clear that Republicans will put revenue on the table, I took a great risk. And then the White House spent three weeks trying to develop a proposal and they send one up here that called for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, calls for not even $400 billion in cuts and they want to have this extra spending that's actually greater than the amount they're willing to cut. It was not a serious proposal.”