Vice President Joe Biden said a fiscal cliff deal could be reached in no time at all if Speaker of the House John Boehner agreed to raise taxes on the wealthy.
Meeting with owners of small businesses at the Metro 29 diner in Arlington, Virginia, Biden said the fiscal cliff would be averted in “15 minutes” if Boehner would agree to raising taxes, according to the pool report.
“The president has made it clear … there are two irreducible minimum requirements for us,” Biden said. “The top brackets have to go up — this is not a negotiable issue; theoretically we can negotiate how far up. But we think it should go– the top rate should go to 39.6%.”
If Boehner agreed to the tax hikes on the wealthy, a deal would be done “like that,” Biden said, reportedly snapping his fingers, and President Barack Obama would “have him sprint up the Hill to get the bill and bring it back.”
Biden said Republicans should not “hold hostage the relief for the middle class.”
“This is no time to add any additional burden for middle class people,” he said, adding that a deal needs to be reached to avoid having a fight to raise the debt ceiling every few months.
“We have to have a mechanism to stop the brinkmanship for dealing with the national debt,” he said. ”We’re not going to play this game of brinkmanship every four months.”
When asked about the speaker’s remarks Friday morning that President Obama was deliberately trying to move the country over the cliff, Biden said: “I’ll let the American people make their judgment whether or not they think that’s the case. That is not the president’s position. We have laid out where we are. There has been in a sense a referendum on the two points I’ve made already. I think everybody knows, every serious economists [sic] I’ve spoken to, left right and center, knows there has to be revenue. You have to do something about rates. You can’t get there from here without affecting these people around this table.”
Overall, Biden said he’s hopeful that a deal will be reached.
“I am because I’m an optimistic [sic] genetically,” he said.