WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama will make Friday his major first post-election intervention in the looming showdown with Republicans over debt and spending, with an on-camera White House statement.
A White House official told AFP that the remarks, in the presidential mansion’s ornate East Room, would focus on “the action we need to take to keep our economy growing and reduce our debt.”
Obama is expected to weigh in on the cresting row with Republicans over expiring tax cuts, looming automatic spending reductions and reducing the deficit, which experts warn could spark a recession if not defused.
The president says Americans sent a message to Washington by returning him for a second term on Tuesday, and that both parties should put aside partisan interests to focus on the economy first.
Obama campaigned for re-election on the idea that the wealthiest Americans should pay higher taxes, and will feel he has a mandate for such an approach.
But Republicans refuse to countenance any tax hikes and insist on cuts to spending on social programs that many Democrats cherish.
John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, has laid down the terms of his party’s negotiating approach to the row, known as the “fiscal cliff.”
He said Republicans were ready to make a short-term fix to avert the spending cuts and higher taxes slated to come into law on January 1.
But Boehner said a longer-term deal to cut the country’s debt and deficit burden would have to rely on a shakeup of the tax code — cutting loopholes and special breaks — to boost government revenues rather than Democrat-favored tax increases.
“Mr President, the Republican majority here in the House stands ready to work with you to do what’s best for our country,” Boehner said Wednesday.
“What we can do is avert the cliff in a manner that serves as a downpayment on and a catalyst for major solutions enacted in 2013 to begin to solve the problem.”
Boehner made clear that a comprehensive long-term plan for debt reduction was unlikely in the next seven weeks of the outgoing “lame duck” Congress, but that a short-term compromise could be achieved.
That was a challenge to Obama, who has previously opposed calls for a short-term fix that would just mean “kicking the can down the road.”