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

ALKHOBAR: A power failure at the King Fahd Causeway on Wednesday night resulted in a massive traffic congestion, even as officials failed to explain the cause of the snag, local media reported.A power outage for 74 minutes on the link between the Kin...
JEDDAH: A female Saudi lawyer was able to get a stay order on a ruling by the general court in Jeddah that awarded custody of a two-year-old girl to her father. She successfully argued to get the court order reversed that gave custody back to the mot...
JEDDAH: The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) said that combating harassment cases is part of its responsibility to promote Islamic values and morals in society.“Those harassing women will be brought to book,” s...
RIYADH: A thick layer of sand covered the city’s skyline on Saturday with a heavy blanket of dust caused by strong winds hampering visibility and creating traffic snarls on busy roads.The traffic department advised motorists to drive slowly and exerc...
JEDDAH: More than 26 million Umrah pilgrims and worshippers visited the Grand Mosque during the month of Ramadan and in the first few days after Eid Al-Fitr, thanks to a smooth transport arrangement under the guidance of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-...
AL-AHSA: An outbreak of lumpy skin disease (LSD) has been discovered in cattle in Al-Ahsa which is an area with many cows. All necessary measures have been taken to protect the livestock, said Mahmoud Al-Shuaibi of the Agriculture Department in Al-Ah...
RIYADH: An architectural masterpiece — the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center (KAHC) — in Riyadh is a huge complex dedicated solely to collecting, preserving, promoting and showcasing the history and heritage of Saudi Arabia. The KAHC is a three milli...
RIYADH: The Saudi Blind Society (Kafif) has made all preparations for the three-day workshop for the blind to be held here next week and attended by delegates from various Asian countries.Mohammed bin Suleiman Al-Shuwaiman, Kafif director general, th...
JEDDAH: The number of Saudis who took early retirement schemes last year stood at 38,647, the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) has said. The Eastern Provinces got the lion's share of disbursements for retirees, amounting to SR3.8 bill...
JEDDAH: Meat and poultry topped the list of food items seized by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) at the border crossings for violating the health standards in the last two months.Approximately 267,137 kg of unfit meat and poultry were reject...
JEDDAH: Many sponsors and workers of small companies are struggling to get a comparatively cheaper health cover for renewal of iqama (residential permit) as the insurance companies have stopped issuing the same.The passport department has made it com...
RIYADH: Police have detained 11 Indonesian nationals, who arrived in the holy city of Makkah for Umrah a few days back.The Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry is working closely with the Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah to assist the group of citizen...
JEDDAH: The National Committee for Bakeries at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) said this Haj season would see no shortage in supplies of bakery items.The committee said there was need to increase operational labor by about 20 percent.It confirmed...
JEDDAH: Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al Hamzi, director general of prisons, has sacked Brig. Ahmad Al Shahrani, director of Jeddah prisons, after the case of a video clip about prisoners taking heroin went viral, according to local media.Quoting informed source...
JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal met with leaders of security forces in the region on Thursday to discuss future plans and mechanisms to limit infiltrators from entering the holy sites via land passageways during Haj.During the meeting, he...

Stay Connected

Facebook