Obama pressing business and labor on fiscal cliff



Published — Wednesday 14 November 2012

Last update 14 November 2012 2:17 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is lobbying business and labor groups to support his plan to avoid what’s been called the “fiscal cliff,” telling both sides he remains committed to requiring the wealthy to pay more in taxes.
Obama was meeting Wednesday with about a dozen business executives as the White House and Congress face a “fiscal cliff” with a series of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 because lawmakers failed to reach a deal to reduce the federal debt. Business groups want an agreement before the end of the year, warning that the uncertainty could roil the financial markets and harm the economic recovery.
The White House meeting follows a gathering of labor leaders and liberal groups Tuesday in which participants said Obama remained clear that he would push for his campaign pledge of making the wealthiest Americans pay more in taxes.
“We’re prepared to stand up to make sure there is shared sacrifice here, so the rich actually start paying their fair share and the middle class don’t get soaked for that,” said AFL-CIO labor union federation President Richard Trumka.
Obama was expected to speak in greater detail on the year-ending lame-duck session of Congress at a White House news conference on Wednesday. Lame-duck session refers to the outgoing legislature that sits after the election but before the newly elected membership is sworn in early next year.
Congress’ failure to act would lead to spending cuts and higher taxes on all Americans, with middle-income families paying an average of about $2,000 more next year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The outgoing Congress has been criticized as the least productive in recent history.
But hanging over the political landscape is the largely unrelated but distracting revelation of marital infidelity that drove former Gen. David Petraeus to resign as CIA director days after the elections. Now the scandal has spread to the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, who is under investigation for alleged “inappropriate communications” with a Florida woman who received threatening e-mails from Petraeus’ former lover.
Washington politicians have just over seven weeks, including breaks for the Thanksgiving holiday next week and the Christmas holiday season, to avert the year-end, economy-jarring expiration of tax cuts Americans have enjoyed for a decade, combined with automatic across-the-board reductions in spending for the military and domestic programs.
That outcome — barring legislative compromise by Jan. 1 — is self-imposed punishment for last year’s failure by a bitterly divided Congress and White House to deal with the government’s spiraling debt and overhaul its unwieldy tax code. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the austerity program would reduce the deficit by nearly $700 billion by the end of 2013. But the non-partisan organization also says millions of jobs could be lost, which could knock the US economy back into a recession.
The big question is how much ground both sides are willing to give after the nation’s voters endorsed the status quo of divided government — a Democratic president and Senate, and a Republican House of Representatives.
Obama and his primary antagonist, Speaker of the House John Boehner, the most powerful Republican in Washington, have begun laying out their positions.
The president demands that taxes go up for American households earning more than $250,000 a year. He also says he is willing to see cuts in government spending, although he has not offered specifics.
Republicans — the low-tax, small-government tea party movement in particular — insist that tax rates not be raised for any income level and instead call for even deeper cuts in spending, although the targets of those reductions are unknown.
Since the election last week, Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have suggested a new willingness to bring Republicans behind an increase in government revenue, but not one that is funded by higher tax rates on upper-income Americans.
At issue is an annual US budget deficit that now is routinely above $1 trillion and a national debt that has risen to near $16.5 trillion.
Obama pledged to raise taxes on the rich during his first term but backed off his stance in late 2010 after Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives in the midterm election. During his meeting with labor leaders, Obama said he was not going to bend on letting the tax cuts expire for top wage earners, according to a participant in the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session. The president said the tax issue was clear during the election and said he had extended those enacted during President George W. Bush’s administration once and would not do so again, the participant said.
The CEOs have urged Congress to extend the Bush-era tax cuts until a tax overhaul can be reached and prevent the spending cuts from taking place. The executives say the uncertainty over the fiscal cliff is hurting the nation’s business climate and preventing hiring.
Obama will meet with several CEOs, including the heads of the Aetna insurance company, Honeywell, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble and Ford.
The participants include members of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a group founded by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles that has pushed for a long-term plan to fix the nation’s debt and deficits.
Simpson, a former Wyoming senator, and Bowles, a former White House chief of staff, served as co-chairs of Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which proposed $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in additional revenues.
Among the CEOs scheduled to attend the meeting are General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, who chairs Obama’s jobs council, and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, who are members of the council.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Timely intervention by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman helped move a Saudi woman, who was declared “brain dead” in the US, to the Kingdom.Hani Matar El-Enzi was quoted as saying by an online publication on Wednesday that his wife, Bas...
RIYADH: The world’s fattest man from Jazan has shed 320 kg in almost three years and a video online showed him taking his first steps with the help of a Zimmer frame, thanks to the role of the Ministry of Health in the weight-loss program.Khaled Mohs...
JEDDAH: The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has questioned the fairness of Saudis being sentenced to death in Iraq.The organization believes the sentences have been issued against the backdrop of “sectarian pressures” and that the regional s...
RIYADH: The $22-billion Riyadh Metro project is going on according to the plan despite the fact that many global projects are faltering.“There are many stalled projects all over the world and not in the Kingdom alone, but the metro project in the Sau...
JEDDAH: Four members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) were stabbed by a youth who was allegedly trying to blackmail a girl in Jeddah. The incident happened on Tuesday night and the four officers, who sus...
RIYADH: A recent report released by the Ministry of Labor revealed that the number of violations registered on the ministry’s electronic program “Together for Monitoring” in the months of December 2015 and January 2016 amounted to 484, of which 157 w...
RIYADH: Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih visited the medical complex in Thuwal, near Jeddah, on Tuesday. The facility was set up by Saudi Aramco, whose chairman is the health minister himself.According to the minister, the complex provides primary hea...
JEDDAH: A number of Shoura Council members have voiced objections to some imams who express their personal opinions during Friday sermons.The members asked the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to supervise the sermons to make sure they were written by spe...
MADINAH: Street vendors near the Prophet’s Mosque pose a risk to the country’s reputation and economy besides blocking the way of service cars, Red Crescent and Civil Defense vehicles, an expert has said.Ninety-eight percent of these street merchants...
RIYADH: Appropriate action has been taken against the Haia members who were involved in beating up a girl opposite the Nakheel shopping mall here recently, but the girl was also at fault, a Haia official has clarified.“A probe has revealed that the g...
I am from the east of France but moved to Saudi Arabia from Paris in 1990. I worked for a princess as a French language tutor. I was young and single. I thought it was very exotic and mysterious. I lived in a palace. I left Saudi Arabia in 1992 and c...
JEDDAH: The Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) held a symposium on Kashmir and the obligation of Muslim world toward Kashmiris.It was presided by Ali Al-Ghamdi, a former Saudi diplomat. Other guests and speakers at the event were Shahid Nayeem, pres...
DAMMAM: A total of 627 kidney transplant surgeries were performed in the Kingdom last year, bringing the number of kidney transplants, performed since the beginning of the organ donation program, to 9,000 surgeries, said Dr. Faisal Shaheen, director...
ABHA: Saudi women spend more on cosmetics compared to women in the West, the Arab world and even in the Gulf, economic studies show.Recent statistics issued by the Saudi Customs suggest the amount of imported cosmetics in the past year exceeded SR2.3...
RIYADH: A study is under way to provide health insurance to Umrah pilgrims and domestic workers and certain articles of the health regulations needs to be amended, an official has said.According to local media, the statement was made by Mohammed bin...

Stay Connected

Facebook