President Barack Obama, voicing optimism about “getting a deal done” with Congress to avert the so-called fiscal cliff looming at year’s end, acknowledged in an interview today that he won’t get “100 percent” of what he wants.
It was the president’s first media interview since winning re-election.
He gave it to Bloomberg Television, in a 19-minute conversation with Bloomberg’s Julianna Goldman airing now on Bloomberg TV.
“We have the potential of getting a deal done,” Obama said, insisting on “a balanced approach” of tax increases and spending cuts.
“It’s not a matter of me being stubborn, of me being partisan — it’s just a matter of math,” the president said. “We’re going to have to have higher rates” for “people like me.”
“We’re going to have to see the rates on the top two percent go up, and we’re not going to get a deal without it,” he said. “When you look at how much revenue you can actually raise by closing loopholes and exemptions, it’s probably in the range of 300 to 400 billion dollars. That’s not enough.”
What we need, he said, “is an acknowledgement that folks like me can afford to pay a little higher rate.”
Asked about the spending cuts that Republicans want, particularly in entitlements such as Medicare, he said: `I am willing to look at anything that strengthens our system” and makes it clear over the long term“that the basic safety net for our seniors is going to be there.”
`I’m prepared to make some tough decisions on these issues.”
At the same time, he said, “We’re not going to be able to come up with a comprehensive tax reform package that gets it all done in the next two weeks.”
“Let’s essentially put a down payment,” he said. “On taxes, let’s let taxes on the upper income folks go up.”
Then, he said, they can follow a process of looking at the bigger picture, pointing toward the next session of Congress. “It’s possible that we may be able to lower some rates” by eliminating exemptions, he said. “I’m happy to be flexible. I realize I’m not going to get 100 percent.”