“On Tuesday, [voters] said loud and clear that they won’t tolerate dysfunction … politicians who view compromise as a dirty word … when so many families and small business owners are still struggling to pay the bills,” Obama said Nov. 9 during his first post-election appearance.
“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,” he said, while standing in front of a campaign-style stage in the White House’s East Room.
Without a deal over the next few months, Obama’s second-term economy will almost surely go into cardiac arrest because of previous White House deals with Congress that have scheduled a massive set of tax increases and huge spending cuts to hit at the beginning of 2013.
Obama hinted at the possible economic damage.
An agreement “would give millions of families — 98 percent of Americans, and 97 percent of small businesses — the certainty they need going into the new year,” he said from the stage.
Obama declined to take questions from the press, which was seated in the back of the room.
Both Obama and his press secretary Jay Carney pushed the GOP to extend the current set of lower taxes for everyone except the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
That partial step would greatly reduce the chance of an economic hit, while also implementing Obama’s goal of imposing higher pre-2001 tax rates on wealthier Americans.
That partial extension would also minimize the GOP’s leverage in the high-stakes fight because it would give Obama what he wants without any concession to the GOP’s free-market priorities.
But the GOP also faces a political hazard from any fiscal meltdown prior to the 2014 midterm elections.
That’s when Obama is expected to use his campaign machinery to push for a Democratic majority in the House. (RELATED: Boehner: 2013 should be the year government solves debt crisis)
Obama hinted at that goal during his East Room statement, when he said that “our job now is to get a majority in Congress to reflect the will of the American people.”
The coordinated arrival of the tax increases and spending cuts were arranged by Obama and Congress, but is being described in most media reports as a natural “fiscal cliff.”
Republican leader John Boehner has suggested that any deal should consist of a major overhaul of the tax code, not a simple tax increase on wealthier Americans.
In August 2011, Boehner agreed to a tax-raising budget deal, which quickly collapsed when Obama demanded additional taxes.
In his East Room speech, Obama frequently tried to claim a 2012 mandate.
“Our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That’s the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign,” he said, even though his campaign heavily used a series of targeted social-issue messages to spur turnout by African-Americans, unmarried woman and Latinos, and to successfully portray Gov. Mitt Romney as “not one of us.”
A tax increase for wealthier Americans “was a central question during the election — it was debated over and over again, and on Tuesday night, we found out that a majority of Americans agree with my approach,” he declared.
However, exit polls also showed that most Americans support a smaller government.