President Obama took to the "bully pulpit" on the Sunday morning talk show Meet the Press blaming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R–Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky) for failing to reach agreement on a deal that would avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases on all Americans. "So far, at least Congress has not been able to get this stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don't want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it has been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package."
It was the first time Obama appeared on a Sunday morning news program since before the November election. Obama was making his case to the American public for his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. David Gregory, the host of the show returned from vacation to conduct the 28 minute interview. During the interview Obama answered questions on the budget, immigration and gun control, but clearly the most pressing issue of the day for the president is the looming fiscal cliff that will occur if a deal is not struck by January 1. If no deal is struck then income taxes will rise for all Americans. Additionally, estate taxes will increase from 35% to 55% and extended unemployment benefits will expire.
Obama rejected any suggestion that he is partially to blame for the dysfunction in Washington. "I negotiated with Speaker Boehner in good faith and moved more than half way in order to achieve a grand bargain." The president said his proposal offered a 2-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. Obama explained that the American public supports his proposal. "Anybody objectively who has looked at this would say we have put forth not only a sensible deal, but one that has the support of the majority of the American people, including close to half of Republicans."
Obama used the interview to highlight and remind the American public about the Republican Party's intransigence. "It is very important for Republicans in Congress to be willing to say 'we understand we are not going to get 100%. We are willing to compromise in a serious way in order to solve problems' as opposed to being worried about the next election."
Gregory pointed out that Republicans seem to have a problem "getting to yes” with Obama, possibly suggesting that it has something to do with Obama, something that has been brought in the past. To that suggestion Obama replied "The American people understand and they listened to an entire year's debate about it. They made a clear decision about the approach they prefer."