Obama Signals He’s Holding Firm on Tax Rates

President pairs ultimatum on taxes with suggestion he's willing to accept some entitlement cuts.

President Barack Obama is hardening his stance in his first post-election confrontation with Republicans, declaring he will make no deal on the country’s fiscal future unless congressional leaders first accept tax-rate increases on top earners.

During an appearance yesterday on Bloomberg Television, Obama’s first media interview since his re-election, the president paired his ultimatum on taxes with signals he is ready to make concessions to Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s calls for cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare health insurance for the elderly.

It’s Math

“It’s not me being stubborn; it’s not me being partisan,” Obama said. “It’s just a matter of math.”

Compromise Prospects

Even as he insisted on higher tax rates, Obama left room for compromise with Republicans in end-game talks.

Debt Limit

Obama also made it clear in the interview that he wants an increase in the U.S. debt limit as part of any compromise in the coming weeks. The U.S. will reach the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling this year, though Treasury can use so-called extraordinary measures to extend the deadline until at least mid-February, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Tea Party

Both are facing pressure from their respective political bases to resist a compromise, with Boehner’s anti-tax, Tea Party-infused House Republicans balking at raising tax rates while labor and other Democratic-aligned interest groups rejecting the idea of cutting entitlements including Medicare and Social Security.

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