President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Saturday reiterated pledges to work together to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff” of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes. But in their weekly radio addresses, the two leaders offered radically different visions for raising revenues while cutting spending.
The president listed job creation and economic growth as his top priorities. While pledging to not raise taxes on most Americans, the president said spending cuts must be combined with “asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.”
Boehner countered that raising top tax rates would, according to accounting firm Ernst & Young, “destroy 700,000 American jobs. That’s because many of those hit by this tax increase are small-business owners — the very people who are the key to job creation in America.”
Obama reiterated his campaign promise that he would not ask students, seniors or middle-class families to pay more in taxes. “Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It’s a step that would give millions of families and 97 percent of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth.”
Boehner instead proposed “shoring up entitlement programs” and closing tax loopholes as alternatives to raising taxes on the rich.
The president said the plan he stumped on during the campaign will reward businesses that create jobs, provide access to education and training, and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure while pushing clean energy. The plan will “reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way,” Obama said.
Obama said he had invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week “to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together.”
The two leaders spoke briefly this week, Boehner said, adding that he was hopeful the two parties could forge a deficit-reduction agreement that passes both chambers of Congress.