This morning on Meet the Press with David Gregory President Obama spoke about the impending “fiscal cliff” from the White House where he made his last minute fiscal pitch before the American public and ahead of a closely watched session today on Capitol Hill with U.S. politicians to address the budget impasse.
Senate leaders worked over the week-end to bring forward a last minute proposal deal that will pass both Houses and prevent the United States from going over the “fiscal cliff” which is less than 48 hours away and amounts to over $600 billion in near term tax increases and federal spending cuts for Americans in 2013.
When asked if America is going over the “fiscal cliff” Obama replied, “Well, I think we are going to find out in the next 48 hours what Congress decides to do.”
During the interview, Obama described himself as “practical guy” in terms of how he has governed over the past 4 years and wants to govern during his second term.
“I am not driven by some ideological agenda, I am a pretty practical guy and I just want to make sure that things work” Obama said.
“You can rest assure that all I care about is making sure that I leave behind an America that is stronger, more prosperous, more stable, more secure than it was I came into office and that is going to continue to drive me. I think that the issue we are dealing with right now on the fiscal cliff is a prime example of it,” Obama explained.
Obama presented himself as a moderate and distanced himself from any association as a radical left-wing liberal.
He made the case that he is advocating for continuing Bush era tax cuts on 98% of Americans, a popular position that he campaigned with during the presidential election in November.
“What I am arguing for are maintaining tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. I don’t think that anybody would consider that some liberal left-wing agenda” he maintained.
“That used to be considered a pretty mainstream Republican agenda and its something we can accomplish today if we simply allow for a vote in the Senate and in the House to get it done. The fact that it’s not happening is an indication of how far certain factions inside the Republican Party have gone where they can’t even accept what used to be considered centrist mainstream positions on these issues” he continued.
Republicans in the House have insisted that the White House budget proposal includes significant reductions with entitlement spending besides just tax increases on the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
When asked if he is prepared to significantly reform entitlement program benefits in Medicare, Obama said he is prepared to do everything he can to make sure that Medicare is there for seniors today as well as for seniors in future generations.
However, Obama hinted that his proposal includes making adjustments for chained CPI, Social Security’s cost of living adjustments for current and future seniors, people with disabilities, and other beneficiaries.
A vote for the chained-CPI would pull $112 billion out of the pockets of beneficiaries over the next 10 years and beyond, a position that is opposed by many Democrats.
“A typical Social Security retiree would lose roughly $500 in benefits at age 75 under the chained CPI as compared to the current law; $1,000 in their 85th year and $1,500 at age 90”, according to Eric Kingson and Nancy Altman, co-chairs of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition.
Concerning the fiscal cliff, Obama said that he’s confident that 1 or 2 things are going to happen when it comes to the fiscal cliff:
“Number one, we are going to see an agreement in the next 48 hours in which case middle class taxes will not go up. If that doesn’t happen, then Democrats in the Senate will put a bill on the floor of the Senate and Republicans will have to decide if they are going block it which will mean that middle class tax cuts do go up” he said.
“If all else fails, if Republicans do in fact decide to block it so that taxes on the middle class taxes do go up, then we will come back with a new Congress on January 4th and the first bill that will be introduced on the floor will be to cut taxes on middle class families” Obama insisted.
Obama admitted that he remains optimistic that a new budget deal will eventually be reached, “One way or another we will get through this” he said.