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Our view: Obama maneuvers fiscal cliff

THE FIRST AMENDMENT

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:05AM



Assured and direct, President Barack Obama is refusing to yield to Republicans on a core idea he ran — and won — on: increasing the tax rate for America’s top earners.

No one could have missed Obama’s simple message over the last year on the Bush-era tax cuts: Let them expire for just the wealthiest top 2 percent of taxpayers. All who earn below $250,000 would carry on at a lower rate.

Failure to strike a deal will result in a tax hike for all and severe spending cuts that could trigger a new recession. Obama and the GOP also propose spending cuts as part of any long-term deficit-reduction plan, though there is no agreement on particulars.

Raising tax rates on top earners is Obama’s starting point in the fiscal cliff negotiations. And apparently, he’s willing to make it his end point as well.

Reinvigorated after the vote, Obama is taking a new tack with the Republicans, who get credit for coming around to the notion that any deal will require new tax revenue. Instead of endless negotiations, Obama has drawn his line in the sand and is standing firm on tax rates for top earners. He’s doing the same with Republican attempts to gain leverage by potentially refusing to raise the government’s debt limit next year. Last time that happened, in 2011, Congress brought the U.S. to the brink of default.

After Obama was re-elected, we said our nation desperately needs a grand bargain, one that combines increased tax revenues with bold spending cuts. That is what Obama ran on, and he now has every obligation to get it.

Chicago Sun-Times



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