US PRESIDENT Barack Obama will begin talks with congressional leaders on Friday with a plan to raise $US1.6 trillion in new tax revenue from the wealthy – making clear that, at least at the outset, a wide gulf remains between congressional Republicans and the White House on the most contentious point in the negotiations.
While Mr Obama said last week he was not wedded to every detail of his proposals, the White House said it did not intend to provide any new plan or make any concessions before the start of negotiations.
Rather, Mr Obama will present his 2013 budget as his starting point, a plan aimed at reducing borrowing over the next 10 years by $US4 trillion.
”We know what a truly balanced approach to our fiscal challenges looks like,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Mr Obama has said that the election validated his approach to tax policy.
His previous proposal called for raising $US1.6 trillion in new taxes on the wealthy by allowing tax rates to increase, imposing a new special tax on millionaires and limiting deductions for the wealthy.
He also proposed $US340 billion in healthcare and entitlement savings, continuing $US1.1 trillion in spending cuts already passed into law and generating another $US1 trillion in savings through the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the election, Republican House Speaker John Boehner signalled a fresh openness to raising taxes on the wealthy, though under what precise circumstances is not clear. He said he opposed raising tax rates, but has left open the possibility of increasing revenue by limiting deductions.
In last year’s budget negotiations, Mr Obama considered two major changes to entitlement programs, tentatively agreeing to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and to slow Social Security spending. While he may not be closed to the ideas in the coming negotiations, he is not opening the talks with such concessions.
”He does not believe that reducing deficits and debt are values unto themselves,” Mr Carney said. ”He believes that they are part of an approach that is driven by his No. 1 priority, which is economic growth and job creation.”
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