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posted: 11/13/2012 7:39 AM

Obama works to enlist outside support for congress talks

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  • U.S. President Barack Obama

      U.S. President Barack Obama

 
Bloomberg News

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. Chief Executive Officer David Cote and American Express Co. CEO Kenneth Chenault. The president also will hold his first news conference since June the same day he meets with the CEOs.

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The moves precede the president's session with Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Nov. 16.

In his 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 the Ohio Republican'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. The resulting so-called fiscal cliff 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.

--With assistance from Laura Litvan, Julianna Goldman and Richard Rubin in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Steven Komarow

To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at hnichols2bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1bloomberg.net

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