The election is more than two weeks away, but both parties are already framing what they’d do when Congress and the president – whomever it is – have to deal with the looming “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts that some experts fear could stall sputtering economic growth.
Republicans and the Romney campaign this morning seized on a front-page Washington Post story headlined “Obama is Ready to Play Hardball on ‘Fiscal Cliff’” to cast the president as an uncompromising figure.
The item goes on to cite administration officials who say that President Obama would veto any legislation to deal with the so called fiscal cliff unless Republicans agree to higher taxes for the wealthy. After the election, even if he loses, President Obama will be in office until January.
Despite the buzz, this is not an entirely new position for Obama. He vowed publicly in July to veto any bill that extends the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning more than $200,000 and families above $250,000.
“I would veto it,” Obama said when asked by New Orleans local affiliate WWLT-TV.
The expiring tax cuts – and Obama’s position on them – have received renewed, intensive attention because of the implications for the legislative period immediately following Election Day.
Unless Republicans and Democrats can reach a compromise, tax rates could rise for all Americans Jan. 1, 2013. Obama and Republicans agree that rates for middle-income Americans should remain the same; they differ on those above the $200,000 per individual-$250,000 per family level.
The Romney campaign has highlighted Obama’s desired tax hike on upper-income earners as – in their words – his only concrete plan for a second term.
“His approach would let our economy sink into recession for the sake of pursuing job-killing tax increases,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said.
“Rather than work in a bipartisan manner as the ‘fiscal cliff’ approaches, President Obama prefers to issue veto threats and simply ignore the other party,” he said. “We can’t afford four more years of this failed leadership.”
ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf contributed.