Obama: We Can Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

Even with the threat of recession hanging over lawmakers, fiscal cliff negotiations continue to reiterate the same, well-worn points. Yet speaking before The Business Roundtable, a corporate group that he has lobbied for support, President Obama said that a deal to avert the spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to begin in January could be made in one week.

“If we can get the leadership on the Republican side to take that framework, to acknowledge that reality, then the numbers actually aren’t that far apart,” Obama told The Business Roundtable. “Another way of putting this is we can probably solve this in about a week. It’s not that tough, but we need that conceptual breakthrough.”

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However, on last week the President and congressional Republicans spent much of the day shoring up their old positions, without any mention of compromise. Both sides have outline proposals to cut the federal deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next ten years. The problem is that the two parties cannot agree how to reach that number. Republicans insist on $1 trillion more in spending cuts than the Obama, while the White House wants $800 billion more in tax increases.

But some Republicans are beginning to indicate that they could change their positions on the issue of higher taxes.

“Personally I know we have to raise revenue. I don’t really care which way we do it. Actually, I would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way because it gives us a greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future,” Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said on MSNBC.

If the Republicans do not change their stance on taxes, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told CNBC that the administration was prepared to go over the fiscal cliff, even though Obama’s business group is against that proposition. According to Reuters, Jim McNerney, chairman of The Business Roundtable and of Boeing (NYSE:BA), “called for non-stop negotiations to break the stalemate.”

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