Former President Bill Clinton said today that he doesn’t “have any problem” with extending the Bush Tax Cuts – at least temporarily – in order to “avoid the fiscal cliff” that looms when the across-the-board tax cuts expire at the end of this year.
“What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now and then deal with what’s necessary in the long term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election,” Clinton said in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday.
When asked if that meant extending the Bush tax cuts, Clinton said “I don’t have any problem with extending all of it now.”
President Obama has called on Congress to allow the tax cuts to expire at the end of the year for people earning more than $250,000.
Clinton has been campaigning with Obama all week and attended a high-dollar fundraiser with the president in New York just last night.
The former president said today that Congress “will probably have to put everything off until early next year.”
“That’s probably the best thing to do right now,” he added.
Tougher decisions on how to deal with the deficit and the debt, said Clinton, will have to come later.
“The Republicans don’t want to do that [wait until next year] unless he agrees to extend the tax cuts permanently, including for upper income people, and I don’t think the president should do that,” he said.
This isn’t the first time a nuanced interview from President Clinton has led to reports that he breaks from President Obama on an issue.
Clinton had to backtrack after he said earlier this week that Obama’s GOP rival Mitt Romney’s “sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold” for being president. A cornerstone of Obama’s campaign has been attacking Romney’s business cred.
Clinton told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff in an interview Tuesday that it’s “not necessarily” wrong for the Obama campaign to keep up its critique of Romney’s business record.
He also said that, when he was asked the question last week, he was not aware of the political context.
“I didn’t have any idea, when I was giving that answer, that I was wading into some controversy in the campaign, because I haven’t seen the ads, and I’m not following it, and I’m not really part of it,” Clinton said.