President Obama changed his tune, if not his policy proposals, today. Rather than claim to have an electoral mandate to raise taxes that Republicans must respect, he emphasized that government is divided between two parties that share a responsibility to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.
“With their votes, the American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility,” Obama told the White House press corps today. “That means nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. Everybody’s got to give a little bit in a sensible way. We move forward together or we don’t move at all.”
The remark evoked House Speaker John Boehner’s comments after the presidential election. “The American people re-elected the president, and re-elected our majority in the House,” Boehner said. “If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs, which is critical to solving our debt.”
Obama reiterated his request that Congress pass a bill that would extend the current tax rates on the middle class but allow the tax rates on the wealthy to go up.
“All of us, every single one of us, agrees that the tax rates shouldn’t go up for the 98 percent of Americans, which includes 97 percent of small businesses,” he said. “At the very least, let’s agree right now on what we already agree on.”
But he also reiterated that Democrats and Republicans have to compromise and will share the blame for the failure to cut a deal.
“Nobody can get 100 percent of what they want and it is not simply a contest between parties in terms of who looks good and who doesn’t,” Obama said. “Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done.”