Obama, Repub­li­cans op­pose each other over taxes at White House

The Pak Banker - - International3 -

WASHINGTON: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama faces off with Repub­li­can con­gres­sional lead­ers over taxes on Tues­day in a test-of-wills that could fore­shadow how the White House works with the op­po­si­tion party in the com­ing two years.

Obama will host Repub­li­cans John Boehner, the next Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and Mitch McCon­nell, the party's leader in the Se­nate, as well as Democrats Nancy Pelosi, the cur­rent Speaker, and Harry Reid, the Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader, at the White House.

Taxes will be at the top of their agenda.

With a broad vic­tory in Novem­ber 2 elec­tions be­hind them, Repub­li­cans are ea­ger to force Democrats to agree to ex­tend Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Amer­i­cans as well as the mid­dle-class con­stituency that con­cerns Obama the most.

Democrats have been in dis­ar­ray about how to pro­ceed, de­spite an im­pend­ing dead­line: the tax cuts ex­pire at the end of this year, and Obama is keen to avoid a sit­u­a­tion in which Amer­i­can fam­i­lies mak­ing less than $250,000 a year face a tax hike on Jan 1.

To pre­vent that, he may have to agree to ex­tend cuts for Amer­i­cans of all in­come lev­els for one to three years-an oner­ous op­tion to many Democrats, but one that may be the most likely out­come if the two sides agree on any­thing at all.

Obama has said the United States can­not af­ford to pay the $700 bil­lion it would cost to ex­tend tax cuts for the rich, but he has also sig­naled a will­ing­ness to com­pro­mise af­ter the "shel­lack­ing" his party re­ceived in this month's elec­tion. The White House said a deal was un­likely to be reached at Tues­day's meet­ing, which Obama said he hoped would jump-start a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship be­tween him and the newly em­pow­ered Repub­li­cans.

"My hope is that to­mor­row's meet­ing will mark a first step to­ward a new and pro­duc­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship," Obama said. "Be­cause we now have a shared re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­liver for the Amer­i­can peo­ple on the is­sues that de­fine not only these times but our fu­ture-and I hope we can do that in a co­op­er­a­tive and se­ri­ous way."

Boehner and McCon­nell, who could be­come Obama's main ad­ver­saries next year, wrote in an opin­ion piece that their party would in­sist on ex­tend­ing tax cuts for ev­ery­one dur­ing the "lame duck" con­gres­sional ses­sion that ends this year. Repub­li­cans will con­trol the House and have greater strength in the Se­nate next year. "If Pres­i­dent Obama and Demo­cratic lead­ers put for­ward a plan dur­ing the lame-duck ses­sion to cut spend­ing and stop the tax hikes on all Amer­i­cans, they can count on a pos­i­tive re­sponse from Repub­li­cans," the two men wrote in a Washington Post piece pub­lished on Tues­day. -Ap

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