Bloomberg News

Obama Seeks Outside Support for Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

November 12, 2012

President Barack Obama

In his first comments at the White House since his re-election victory three days earlier, President Barack Obama called on Nov. 9 for an immediate tax-cut extension for people earning less than $250,000 and insisted that top earners pay more. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama is working to enlist outside support for his position that high-income people pay more taxes as he heads into negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner on how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

Obama will host labor leaders at the White House tomorrow, and on Nov. 14 he’ll meet with executives of some the biggest U.S. companies, including Honeywell International Inc. (HON:US) Chief Executive Officer David Cote, American Express Co. (AXP:US) CEO Kenneth Chenault, Ford Motor Co. (F:US) CEO Alan Mulally and General Electric Co. (GE:US) CEO Jeffrey Immelt. The president also will hold his first news conference since June the same day he meets with the CEOs.

The meetings come before the president’s session with Boehner, an Ohio Republican, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, on Nov. 16.

In Obama’s first comments at the White House since his re- election victory three days earlier, Obama called on Nov. 9 for an immediate tax-cut extension for people earning less than $250,000 and insisted that top earners pay more. Earlier in the day, Boehner cited public support for the re-elected House Republican majority -- and said that tax rates must not go up.

While both said they were willing to compromise and act quickly, Obama and Boehner offered no public concessions. Their differences may take weeks to reconcile as they test each other’s readiness to bend, assess who will be blamed if they fail, and work with party members who won’t want to give in.

‘Encouraging’ Comments

Speaking yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama’s re-election campaign, called Boehner’s comments on the fiscal cliff “encouraging.”

Boehner “said he wasn’t going to get into details about what he would or wouldn’t accept,” Axelrod said. “He didn’t want to foreclose discussions and that was a positive sign.” Axelrod also said Boehner’s “rhetoric has been encouraging.”

Without new legislation, a combined $607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts -- evenly divided between military and domestic spending -- will take effect starting in January. Some economists have expressed concern the tax increases and spending cuts might push the economy back into recession. The fiscal cliff stems from a standoff between Obama and Congress over how to curb soaring U.S. debt through a mix of tax-code changes and cuts to federal spending.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at

The Good Business Issue

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  • AXP
    (American Express Co)
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