At a concluding press conference after the G20 meetings in South Korea this afternoon President Obama said that he will not negotiate the tax cut debate from Seoul.
Asked how much he is willing to compromise with Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in order to get them extended for the middle class, the president said there may be a “whole host of ways,” to compromise but it has just not been negotiated out yet.
“I continue to believe that extending permanently the upper-income tax cuts would be a mistake and that we can’t afford it. And my hope is, is that somewhere in between there we can find some sort of solution. But I’m not going to negotiate here in Seoul. My job is to negotiate back in Washington with Republican and Democratic leaders.”
After an interview done by the Huffington Post with White House advisor David Axelrod on Wednesday in which it was suggested that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board continuation of the Bush tax cuts, the president said it is too early to claim that since a conversation has not taken place yet.
“That is the wrong interpretation because I haven’t had a conversation with Republican and Democratic leaders,” he answered during the news conference, “Here’s the right interpretation. I want to make sure that taxes don’t go up for middle-class families starting on January 1st. That’s my number-one priority — for those families and for our economy.”
The president said he knows the Republicans feel strongly about this, and he is willing to have a “tough, hard-headed discussion,” with both sides at Thursday’s summit back at the White House.
-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller