Obama on the Fiscal Cliff: It’s Solvable

President Barack Obama held his first news conference since the election on Wednesday and his opening remarks mainly focused on the economy, reiterating what he said in a statement on the fiscal cliff last Friday. That is: the economy is recovering from deep recession, but progress is slow; a series of decisions must be made by the end of the year in order to avoid disaster; and the focus must remain on jobs.

Obama mentioned in his opening remarks that America should reward manufacturers who create jobs at home, not overseas. After the press conference the President will get the opportunity to talk with manufacturers who are doing just that, including the CEO of General Electric (NYSE:GE), Jeffery Immelt.

Immelt wrote an article in the middle of October that explained how GE and companies like Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Alcoa (NYSE:AA) have a need to fill 600,000 skilled manufacturing positions. In order to do this, they have initiated the “Get Skills to Work” coalition aimed at placing an initial round of 15,000 veterans in technically advanced jobs.

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The President emphasized that the most important thing the government could do right now was to create jobs and establish economic certainty moving into the future. The best way to do that would be to make sure that taxes don’t go up for the 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses that fall outside of the “wealthy” bracket.

“If we get that in place, we are actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. Half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step,” Obama said. “We could get that done by next week.”

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that middle-class tax cuts should continue, but the other issues involved in the negotiations threaten to hold back progress. “The only question now is are we going to hold the middle class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen?” asked the President.