Obama Summons Congressional Leaders for Financial Talks

Posted November 9th, 2012 at 5:00 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is summoning congressional leaders to the White House next week for talks on how to avert significant government spending cuts and tax increases in January.

Newly re-elected to a second term, Mr. Obama told a White House gathering Friday that the country urgently needs to “build consensus” to resolve its financial problems, with a priority of promoting job and economic growth. Ahead of the pivotal November 16 talks, the White House says the president will host a news conference Wednesday expected to focus on the looming crisis.

Mr. Obama said it is imperative to control government spending. But he added that “we can't just cut our way to prosperity” through spending cuts in government programs.

He said the election showed that a majority of Americans approve of his idea to increase taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers, households such as his making more than $250,000 a year. His Republican opponents in Congress have adamantly opposed any tax increases at the start of the new year.

Mr. Obama said he is open to compromise, but that both spending cuts and revenue increases are necessary.

“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.”

Shortly after his speech, the White House said Mr. Obama would veto any legislation that extends tax cuts for couples earning more than $250,000 a year.

The U.S. is facing what Washington is calling a “fiscal cliff,” $600 billion in mandated spending cuts to key defense and domestic programs and tax increases that would affect all American workers on January 1.

Many financial analysts fear the cuts and tax hikes, if allowed to occur, could send the economy back into recession.

Earlier, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, told reporters that raising tax rates will slow down the ability to create the jobs that everyone wants. He said the economy was the top priority for voters in the election.

Boehner said 2013 should be the year the government begins to solve its financial problems, especially debt and tax issues and spending for government pensions and health care for the elderly.

“Now 2013 should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform. And I'm proposing that we avert the fiscal cliff together in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing it.”

Boehner has said he is open to some form of raising new government revenues, as long as it includes changes to the pension and health care programs.

The law mandating the cuts in 2013 was intended to force lawmakers to compromise on ways to cut spending and raise revenue in order to reduce the federal budget deficit.