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President Signals a Turn While Racing Toward Fiscal Cliff

By US Representative Jo Bonner
Alabama Political Reporter

With less than 45 days before Washington faces a deadline to reach a decision on whether to allow $7 trillion in tax hikes and indiscriminant federal spending cuts to take effect, President Obama and his supporters in Congress are swerving all over the road when it comes to signaling their position.

Prior to November 6, the president made pledges to pursue a “grand bargain” with Congress in order to avoid the looming fiscal cliff of across-the-board automatic take hikes when the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire on December 31, 2012, in addition to deep and indiscriminate cuts in defense and many other federal programs. Now that the politicking is over, the president seems to be less certain about his direction.

During a White House press conference last Wednesday, the president again appeared to show flexibility in his position by stating, “I’m not just going to slam the door in their face.  I want to hear ideas from everybody.” However, in nearly the same breath he back stepped, doubling down on his long-held position of supporting tax increases for small business owners and those making over $250,000.

Also last week, the incoming Senate Budget Committee chairwoman, Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, told CNN that she is willing to take the nation over the edge of the fiscal cliff if Congressional Republicans don’t accept the president’s plan of higher taxes. Her idea of striking a bipartisan deal sounds more like “take it or leave it.”

While the president and his lieutenants in the Senate are stepping on the gas as they race the country towards the financial precipice, House conservatives were quick to lay out a solution that is also supported by a majority of Americans. Rather than ratcheting up taxes on America’s job creators, we support reforming the overly complex federal tax code to arrive at a simpler, fairer system.

A Gallup survey released last Thursday found that 70 percent of those polled agree with our approach of simplifying the tax code by lowering rates and closing loopholes. Less than half of those surveyed support the president’s stance of higher taxes, which will disproportionally target small businesses and stifle job creation.

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The reasonable position to address our nation’s budget crisis is to fix the broken tax code, reduce wasteful federal spending and take steps to protect the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security. That is the position House Republicans advocate. There is an empty chair at the table if the president wants to sit down and work with us to avoid devastating tax increases and further damage to our economy.

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