Tax increases still on Obama’s horizon

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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White House officials say the second stage of the debt-ceiling process could yet yield a “grand bargain” by January — complete with tax increases.

“We did not get the ‘grand bargain’ upfront, and we well know why,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a midday press conference. But President Barack Obama “will continue to push” for that big deal, and “it is our expectation that the package will include revenues,” he said.

White House officials have long used the term “revenues” as shorthand for tax increases and the expiration of tax breaks.

The second stage of the complex deal currently on the table requires deficit reductions of $1.5 trillion over a decade. “Are we doing that only by asking sacrifices from middle class people … or [sacrifice from] oil and gas companies, corporate-jet manufacturers or the wealthy?” said Carney.

“That is a debate he [Obama] is looking forward to,” Carney said.

GOP legislators and their allied advocacy groups will oppose this continued push for tax increases. House Speaker John Boehner, for example, quit the debt-ceiling negotiations hosted by Obama after the president pushed for $400 billion in tax increases over the next decade.

For several weeks, Obama has been pushing for a deal that would reduce the 10-year deficit by roughly $4 trillion.

This goal would burnish his campaign-trail claim to be be a consensus builder, and perhaps boost his declining support among swing-voting independents. A Pew poll from late July showed that 54 percent of independent voters disapprove of Obama’s job performance.

Officials also cite polls showing majority support for some level of tax increases.

The deal struck yesterday promises to reduce the 10-year U.S. deficit by roughly $2.4 trillion. Americans would, however, still face a deficit of more than $7 trillion over the same decade. “Do we still have to borrow money to pay out bills? Yes,” Carney said, while saying that the debt-ceiling deal “very significantly” reduces the problem.