As the talks commenced, Obama and Republicans went to the airways to restate their public positions one more time, either aiming to run up public pressure, or lay the groundwork to blame the other party.
“It’s a balanced plan – one that would protect the middle class, cut spending in a responsible way, and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “And I’ll keep working with anybody who’s serious about getting a comprehensive plan like this done – because it’s the right thing to do for our economic growth.”
Republicans, in their radio address rebuttal, said they agree with Obama about sparing millions of Americans from economic hardship. They just disagree with some of the ways to do it.
“The president’s proposal to raise taxes on the top 2 percent of Americans won’t even pay one-third of the annual interest that’s now owed on this massive $16 trillion debt,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference, said in his party’s radio message. “We still can avoid going over the fiscal cliff if the president and the Democrat-controlled Senate step forward this week and work with Republicans to solve this problem and solve it now.”
Blunt suggested that Senate negotiators already have a blueprint to work with to avoid the fiscal cliff in legislation passed earlier this year by the Republican-controlled House, including an August vote to extend President George W. Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes for one year.
“The House has already passed bills to protect all Americans from burdensome tax increases,” Blunt said. “But instead of working across the aisle and considering the House-passed plan to protect taxpayers, Senate Democrats have spent months drawing partisan lines in the sand.”
To keep pressure on Congress, Obama will sit for an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” It is his 11th appearance on the show but only his second as president. His last appearance was in September 2009 during the battle over revamping the nation’s health care system.