That's not my line. That's a Reuters story released Sunday (and carried by the AP), bylined to Alister Bull, with the following lead paragraph:
"A senior Republican senator voiced confidence on Sunday that U.S. lawmakers would forge a deal on the year-end "fiscal cliff," while a top aide to President Barack Obama signaled a willingness to compromise over raising tax rates on the rich."
The senior Republican is Bob Corker (R-TN) on Fox News. The Obama is David Axelrod on Face the Nation. Axlerod is quoted as saying:
Top Obama aide David Axelrod, asked if it was possible to raise enough revenue to curb the deficit without increasing the top tax rate, praised the 'encouraging' remarks by Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, on the need to tackle the problem.Nothing in the quote attributed to Axelrod that says what Reuters says he said, that the President might compromise on tax rates for the wealthy.
'Obviously, there is money to be gained by closing some of these loopholes and applying them to deficit reduction,' Axelrod told CBS's Face the Nation. 'So I think there are a lot of ways to skin this cat, so long as everybody comes with a positive, constructive attitude toward the task.'
The issue is very significant. Stay with me here ...
In his statement to the press Friday afternoon, President Obama discussed this very point. Here's The New York Times report of his remarks, expressing a little smidgen of doubt:
'We can’t just cut our way to prosperity,' he said. 'If we are serious about reducing the deficit we have to combine spending cuts with revenue and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.'So ... what's up here? Would a President who repeatedly campaigned expressly on the taxes paid by the wealthy and tax rates in particular, being so much lower than the average Americans who work for them, actually pull back and talk revenues and tax reforms that would balance out, etc? That is what Mitt Romney campaigned on, not Barack Obama.
His word choice here is worth noting, and maybe worth worrying about. Mr. Obama said 'taxes,' not 'tax rates,' and he used the word 'revenue.'
The media - the mainstream media - is confused and making mountains out of thin air.
Practically, there's no way Congress has time in its lame duck session to enact anything complicated on taxes. It could simply extend the Bush cuts; the President took pains to say he wouldn't sign such a bill. It could pass some stopgap for a few weeks or months while it figured out out to do deal with more complicated issues. Nope: here's President Obama on Friday:
While there may be disagreement in Congress over whether or not to raise taxes on folks making over $250,000 a year, nobody — not Republicans, not Democrats — want taxes to go up for folks making under $250,000 a year. So let’s not wait.He said the Senate had already passed such a bill. The House's work could be easy - follow the Senate's lead.
The issue here is a big one. Campaign debates and stump speeches raised precisely this issue and President Obama - who challenged the very notion of continuing the Bush tax cuts for the very rich - won.
To back off - no matter how much the media would like to generate controversy and therefore readership - would betray the re-elected President's chief campaign promise. He won't do that.
Is there a way later to make adjustments in rates and tax reforms? Of course. Bring 'em on. But it will take months to put that kind of thing through, with a strong likelihood that the lobbyists and special pleaders will stop any meaningful attempts to kill or meaningfully restrict their favorite deductions, credits and preferences.
And the Republicans would portray - correctly - any backing off on Obama's campaign promises as a huge victory for them ... and for Romney's basic approach.
So sally forth, media, and chatter this thing up to a fair thee well. Cuts in tax rates on the wealthy - meaning the top rate brackets - Will. Not. Be Extended ... by this President.