Thursday, May 24, 2018

Obama, Rubio continue fiscal cliff stumping over airwaves

President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stumped Saturday on the airwaves for their parties' solutions for the so-called fiscal cliff.

In his weekly Internet and radio address, Obama said Republicans in the House are blocking a bill that would prevent a tax increase on the first $250,000 of income earned by all Americans. The president also said he was willing to make more entitlement spending cuts on top of the $1 trillion in cuts he signed into law last year.

"But if we're serious about reducing our deficit while still investing in things like education and research that are important to growing our economy — and if we're serious about protecting middle-class families — then we're also going to have to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates," Obama said. "That's one principle I won't compromise on."

Obama's comments mark the fourth time since his re-election that he has used the radio address to push for middle-class tax cuts as part of a plan to avert a looming fiscal cliff — and his most sharply partisan tone.

Obama said his plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans should come as no surprise to Republicans or anyone else.

"After all, this was a central question in the election. A clear majority of Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — agreed with a balanced approach that asks something from everyone, but a little more from those who can most afford it," Obama said.

His plan is "the only way to put our economy on a sustainable path without asking even more from the middle class," Obama said. It also is the only plan he is willing to sign, the president said.

Since Congress returned from its Thanksgiving break, Obama and House Republicans have haggled over ways to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in the new year, resulting in a stalemate where each side accuses the other of not bring substantive concessions to the table.

Returning the fire, Rubio said in the Republican response Saturday that tax increases will not solve the nation's $16 trillion debt. Only economic growth and reform of entitlement programs will help control the debt, Rubio said.

"We must reform our complicated, uncertain job-killing tax code by getting rid of unjustified loopholes," Rubio said. "But our goal should be to generate new revenue by creating new taxpayers, not new taxes."

U.S. stocks appear to be treating the political drama as just that, seeing both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index turned in their third consecutive week of gains on Friday.

While some may see the public posturing as part of the Washington game, others warn that daily displays of contention may further polarize the issue, making it more difficult to broker a true compromise.

Touching upon that was Pimco's chief executive, Mohamed El-Erian, who stressed Saturday in a CNBC guest blog post that how politicians carry out negotiations matters because it will influence the success of future negotiations.

Information from the Associated Press is used in this report.

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