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December 10, 2012

Obama Presses Case for 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal

by Dan Robinson

President Barack Obama used a truck manufacturing plant in the midwestern United States as the backdrop for a speech Monday about the economy, and the importance of achieving an agreement in fiscal negotiations with congressional Republicans.

Since winning reelection last month, Obama has twice used campaign-style speeches outside of Washington to underscore economic progress and to increase public pressure for a deal to avert hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts and tax hikes at the end of the year.

A day after face-to-face talks with John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Obama flew to Michigan to address workers at a truck engine plant owned by the German company Daimler.

At Detroit Diesel Corporation, a short distance from the auto manufacturing center of Detroit, the president highlighted a new $100 million investment that is expected to add new jobs.  He called it an example of the successful bet he made on the U.S. auto industry.

"So the word is going out all around the world," he said.  "If you want to find the best workers in the world, if you want to find the best factories in the world, if you want to build the best cars or trucks or any other product in the world, you should invest in the United States of America.  This is the place to do it."

On the fiscal negotiations between Congress and the White House, Obama said time is running out for an agreement to avert economic damage that would result from mandatory government spending cuts and expiring tax breaks in January.

The president wants the wealthiest Americans to pay more taxes to support future deficit reductions, and seeks to extend Bush-era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000.

Congressional Republicans say higher taxes on the wealthy would hurt job growth.  They have proposed as much as $800 billion in new revenue as part of a deal, half of Obama's proposed $1.6 trillion revenue increase.  

Obama and congressional Democrats are also pressing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to take up a bill approved by the Democratic-run Senate that would ensure a middle class tax cut.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked this question of Republicans, "Will they cooperate with Democrats or will they force us to lurch from one crisis to the next in 2013, as they did in 2011 and 2012?"

In Michigan, Obama said he is willing to come to an agreement, but only on a balanced plan that would not sacrifice needed investments in the economy.

"I am willing to compromise a little bit," the president said. "But if we are serious about reducing our deficit we have also got to be serious about investing in the things that help us grow."

As the Obama-Boehner face-to-face meeting on Sunday showed, talks are continuing.  But last week, Boehner accused Obama of "slow walking" the negotiations.

Spokesman for both sides decline to characterize recent conversations.  White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says their main interest is in reaching an agreement, while "not trying to negotiate . . . through the media."