President Obama, flanked by National Governors Association Chairman Jack Martell, D-Del., and NGA Vice Chairwoman Mary Fallin, R-Okla.(Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)
President Obama said Tuesday the latest Republican "fiscal cliff"
plan is "still out of bounds" because it does not include higher taxes
on the wealthy.
"We have the potential of getting a deal," Obama
said during an interview with Bloomberg News Television, but it must be a
"balanced" plan that includes both budget cuts and higher taxes on
Americans who make more than $250,000.
The president said he does
not expect to get "100%" of what he wants in any agreement, but noted he
ran for re-election -- and won -- on a pledge to eliminate the George
W. Bush-era tax cuts for high-end earners.
Seeking to build
political support for his plan, Obama met at the White House on Tuesday
with a delegation of six governors, three from each party.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans say raising tax
rates would kill jobs and slow the economy. They have put up a plan that
relies on closing tax loopholes instead, saying that will bring in $800
billion in higher tax revenues.
The GOP's 10-year, $2.2 trillion
debt reduction plan also calls for raising the eligibility age for
Medicare and lowering cost-of-living hikes for Social Security benefits.
have made a good faith effort to find common ground and avoid the
fiscal cliff," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "In its initial
response, the White House made clear it has no intention of finding
The parties are seeking to avoid the so-called
"fiscal cliff," a series of tax hikes and budget cuts that kick in
automatically if the White House and Congress are unable to reach a
Both Republicans and Democrats say falling off the fiscal cliff would plunge the nation back into recession.
is poised to take off," Obama told Bloomberg. "The question is, let's
make sure that we don't have a self-inflicted wound."
governors who met with Obama, representing the National Governors
Association, said they didn't want to endorse one plan or the other. "We
agree that something should be done," said Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del.,
chairman of the NGA, after the meeting.
Like his statehouse
colleagues, Markell expressed concern about the economic uncertainty
surrounding the possibility of the fiscal cliff.
guests included Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose battles
with public employee unions made headlines throughout the recent
Walker -- who also reported that "our focus was
not on endorsing a specific plan" -- said the group wanted to make sure
that the nation's governors got "a seat at the table" as the White House
and Congress worked through budget issues.
White House officials
said higher taxes on the rich are part of a "balanced" plan that also
includes budget cuts as a way to reduce the national debt that now tops
During the Bloomberg interview, Obama said Boehner's
plan to rely on closing loopholes would raise no more than $300 billion
or $400 billion, much less than the $800 billion projected by the GOP.
In order for the government to raise sufficient revenues through the
closing of loopholes, Obama said officials would have to consider the
elimination of popular tax breaks, such as the one on charitable
Even some Republicans are criticizing the Boehner
plan, saying they oppose any type of tax hikes. "Speaker Boehner's $800
billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in
Washington to spend even more," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
other governors who met with Obama were Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okla, the
vice chair of the NGA; Gov. Mike Beebe, D-Ark.; Gov. Mark Dayton,
D-Minn.; and Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah.
The group has also scheduled separate meetings with Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Secretary Timothy Geithner -- Obama's key negotiator on Capitol Hill --
briefed the governors about the administration's plan.
aides said little about legislative strategy on a final deal, the
governors reported. The president "did not handicap it one way or
another," said Markell.
The governors' meeting is Obama's latest
effort to build support for his negotiating position on the fiscal
cliff. Since Thanksgiving, the president has met with with labor leaders
and business CEOs as well as congressional leaders.
Obama is also
seeking support through media. In addition to the Bloomberg interview,
the president on Monday conducted a Twitter chat with followers about
the fiscal cliff.