President Meets the Press to Sell Plan for Higher Taxes

BY Christina Bellantoni  November 14, 2012 at 9:01 AM EDT

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is surrounded by members of the media as he leaves the White House on Tuesday after a meeting with President Barack Obama. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama is scheduled to step in front of reporters on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. for his first full-scale press conference since March with an agenda of convincing the nation that his fiscal plans for the coming year are the best path.

With a decisive victory more than a week in the rearview mirror, and a shuffling of his Cabinet, White House staff and top administration officials ahead, Mr. Obama is spending this week laying the groundwork for what could be a bitter battle with a divided Congress.

Leaders from both parties are saying they aren’t sure how the negotiations will go once they formally begin, and each side is expressing hope for compromise before automatic budget cuts kick in early next year.

The president plans on “making no opening concessions and calling for far more in new taxes than Republicans have so far been willing to consider,” and will propose the $1.6 trillion in tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy from his most recent budget blueprint, Zachary Goldfarb and Lori Montgomery reported for the Washington Post. Among the details of what they deem the president’s “hard line” at the starting gate:

Obama’s 2013 budget sought to reduce borrowing over the next 10 years by about $4 trillion, counting $1.1 trillion in agency cuts already in force. In addition to raising taxes, Obama proposed to slice $340 billion from health-care programs and to count about $1 trillion in savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His budget request did not include reductions to health and retirement benefits, but Obama did consider such changes in his 2011 talks with Boehner, including raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and applying a stingier measure of inflation to Social Security.

Also framing the discussions, Bloomberg’s Julianna Goldman writes that “with corporate executives among those expressing concern that the $607 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff risks tipping the economy into another recession, the administration has been working to enlist their support before negotiations with Congress begin.”

Among the officials meeting with top business and finance leaders: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Jeff Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, as well as Chief of Staff Jack Lew and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Goldman reports.

The press conference comes eight days after the president’s win over Republican nominee Mitt Romney, so it’s not clear how many political questions Mr. Obama will face or how he’ll outline his views of the results.

The NewsHour will livestream the event and post video later.

ON THE CLIFF’S EDGE

Judy Woodruff examined the lame duck session on Tuesday’s NewsHour, with Todd Zwillich of PRI’s “The Takeaway” walking through the multiple fiscal cliff scenarios.

Watch the discussion here or below:

And Jeffrey Brown talked with two of the leaders who attended a meeting at the White House Tuesday, National Education Association’s Dennis Van Roekel and Moveon’s Justin Ruben.

Ruben said the president made clear “he’s going to stick to his guns” on higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and Van Roekel said the conversation was broad. He said Mr. Obama wasn’t talking with them about how he’d negotiate a deal, since the battle is just beginning.

Watch that conversation here or below:

The NewsHour’s Kwame Holman was at the White House on Tuesday. He reports:

Leaders of labor and liberal organizations were all smiles as they trickled out of a White House meeting with the president. One called the off-the-record session a “celebration” of Mr. Obama’s re-election their foot soldiers helped ensure and a chance to congratulate him on four more years.

It also was a chance, several said, both to urge him to hold harmless the middle class and poor in upcoming “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations with Congress and to assure the president they’ll be pushing that message from outside the White House gates.

“We’re committed to keeping the campaign going,” Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change told a gaggle of reporters in the White House driveway.

He said the groups and Mr. Obama “are on the same page [to] make sure [the budget] isn’t balanced on the backs of middle income and poor” people.

Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO said the president told the dozen leaders he is committed to maintaining the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class set to expire Dec. 31 while “making sure the wealthy pay their fair share.”

A few minutes later and a few steps away in the White House Briefing Room, Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated that Mr. Obama “will not sign any bill that” extends the tax cuts for the top two percent of tax filers.

Carney also acknowledged no such bill is likely ever to reach the White House since Democrats in the Senate have the votes prevent it.

On Wednesday after the press conference, the president continues the “outside game” strategy he promised to employ more often in a second term when he tries to line up major business leaders’ support for his approach to the fiscal cliff negotiations and overall tax, spending, and deficit reduction initiatives.

LINE ITEMS

  • Nancy Pelosi will let her fellow House Democrats know Tuesday morning if she’ll remain in Congress and make another bid to be their Minority Leader.
  • It sounds like the Senate GOP leadership elections won’t be dramatic after all. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is expected to win the race for No. 2 under Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Roll Call reports, and Sen. Jerry Moran is likely to win Cornyn’s job at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, even as members have their doubts about the Kansan being the right fit for the job.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan continues his post-vice presidential nominee media tour, telling a station back home it was the urban vote that cost his ticket the election, and Jonathan Karl of ABC that he thinks the president did not win a mandate to raise taxes.
  • The latest on the Petraeus scandal from the Washington Post focuses on how Paula Broadwell obtained classified files.
  • The Boston Globe curtain raises the candidates who could run for Sen. John Kerry’s seat should the president pluck him for a position in his administration.
  • National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar thinks the GOP’s future lies with its governors.
  • The Republican National Committee vice chair asks RNC members to think about how the party can reshape itself and improve for the next election.
  • The Root’s Edward Wyckoff Williams writes about “the multiracial face of the Democratic Party.”
  • Roll Call’s Kate Ackley has a great piece about how lobbyists work to woo new members when they arrive in town.
  • Wild pigs in Rock Creek Park? It’s a possibility in five to 10 years, the Washington Post reports.
  • Fast Company explains how Mr. Obama’s “Four More Years” tweet strategically helped his brand and broke the re-tweet record.
  • Rep. Jesse Jackson was released from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar allegedly had a dust-up with a reporter over wild horses in Colorado.
  • Texas Rep.-elect Beto O’Rourke was in a punk band, and Roll Call has video.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Margaret Warner blogs from Turkey. Keep up with her by following @MargaretWarner.

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Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.