News / USA

Bill Clinton: Tax Deal Best That Can Be Achieved

President Barack Obama looks on as former President Bill Clinton speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 10, 2010.
President Barack Obama looks on as former President Bill Clinton speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 10, 2010.

President Barack Obama has received the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton for the controversial tax deal the White House negotiated with congressional Republicans. President Obama and Mr. Clinton made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room on Friday.

The former president said it is clear that all sides in the debate over the proposed tax bill, which the White House and Republicans are calling a framework agreement, see things differently.

Estimated to cost more than $800 billion, the package would extend current lower rates approved under President George W. Bush for all Americans, including the wealthiest, in return for extending government benefits for the unemployed and other provisions the White House calls crucial to avoiding another recession.   It would also add to the government deficit and $13.8 trillion national debt.  

Mr. Clinton said it is important to achieve what he called principled compromise in a time of divided government, without which he said there would be paralysis. "The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans and to maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs and to minimize the chances that it will slip back," he said.

Asked by reporters about intense negative reaction from many Democratic lawmakers, Mr. Clinton said he hopes they will support it.

Democrats in the House of Representatives formally rejected the deal.  Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said discussions would continue with the White House and Republicans to improve the proposal before the House considers it.  The U.S. Senate is expected to take a first test vote on Monday.   

On Friday, a fierce opponent of the tax deal, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, began what he vowed will be an all-out effort to block the legislation. "The agreement that they reached is a bad deal for the American people. I think we can do better," he said.

President Obama said the tax deal was one topic in an Oval Office discussion with Mr. Clinton that lasted about 90 minutes.  He reiterated what he sees as the positive points of the deal.

"Billions of dollars in payroll tax cuts that can immediately help rejuvenate the economy, as well as tax cuts for middle class families, unemployment insurance for folks that desperately need it, credits for college, child tax credits, as well as a range of business tax credits, are so important to keep this economy moving," he said.

President Obama finds himself in a situation similar to Mr. Clinton in 1994, when in mid-term congressional elections, Republicans won control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, threatening his agenda.

Mr. Clinton was forced to come up with a new strategy, moving more to the political center and working with Republicans.  He won re-election in 1996.   

President Obama faces similar decisions, facing a Republican majority in the House of Representatives in January in the wake of the mid-term elections last month.  In the Senate, Democrats will have a narrower majority, but  Republicans have already shown their ability to block Obama legislative priorities there.

Former President Clinton said it's clear President Obama will have more difficulty negotiating in January, but he disagreed with those who suggest Mr. Obama's compromise with Republicans has damaged his political prospects.

The former president emphasized what he sees as most important now for the country. "The economy first, we can't go back into a recession, we have to keep crawling out of this mess we are in. And this is a good first step," he said.

Mr. Clinton also talked about Haiti during his surprise appearance before the media at the White House.  And he reiterated his support for U.S. Senate ratification of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

President Obama's meeting with former President Clinton was the second time in a week he has met with a former president.  He met with former President Jimmy Carter last week. The contents of those discussions are unknown.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs