Appearing refreshed and energized, President Obama spoke before an enthusiastic audience about the economy and the "fiscal cliff." He was intent on presenting his position of authority, showing willingness to move forward but unwillingness to allow tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
Next week he plans to bring in business, labor, and other leaders to focus on what the country and the economy needs. He did not elaborate.
He emphasized putting "folks" back to work and his intent to "reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way." The upcoming "major decisions" will have a huge impact on the economy and middle class "now and in the future."
Highlighting his intent to work with both parties to solve the crisis and prevent the fiscal cliff, he also emphasized that "we can't just cut our way to prosperity." Instead, "we have to combine spending cuts with revenue and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to do a little more in taxes."
Mentioning that raising taxes was "how we did it in the 1990's under Bill Clinton," he aluded to his "detailed plan to make investments by reducing deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade."
With clarity of tone, leaving no uncertainty, he said, "I refuse to accept any approach that is not balanced." Making reference to having been elected by the voice of Democrats, Independents and Republicans, he said clearly he would stand his ground for what he thinks the electorate wants.
Ensuring that the American people understand clearly that failure to come to an agreement is the fault of the Congress, he said, "One final point every American needs to hear. Right now if Congress fails to come to an agreement on a package by the end of the year, everybody's taxes will go up ... everybody's!"
He did offer a specific intent, which was to extend the middle class tax cuts "right now," even as a broader deficit reduction is negotiated.
He called on the House to agree to increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans ($250,000+) and held up his pen saying, "I've got the pen, ready to sign the bill right away."
Finally, he ended the briefing saying that he "won't tolerate disfunction," or viewing "compromise as a dirty word." The American people, he said, "are looking for cooperation. I intend to deliver it for them in the second term."
What does this mean? It sounds as if the president will not compromise on the tax cuts for the higher brackets but will support those for the middle class, the House will be forced to compromise, and the rest will wait until the 103rd Congress. We'll see what happens.