ABOARD AIR FORCE TWO – During a flight between Chicago and New Castle, Del., Vice President Joe Biden told reporters that the election provided a “clear sort of mandate” on the issue of taxes as he and the president prepare to handle the fiscal cliff.
“On the tax issue there was a clear, a clear sort of mandate about people coming much closer to our view about how to deal with tax policy,” Biden told reporters during a question and answer session on Air Force Two.
Biden added that he hopes there’ll be “some real soul searching” in the Republican party “about what they’re willing to cooperate on.”
And cooperation is key if the administration plans to address the fiscal cliff with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Biden said he did not want to speculate on any deal to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts.
But he did say, “We are prepared to work with Republican leadership to actually deal with two overarching problems right now – one is the whole sequester piece and the other is the tax piece. It’s possible you could bifurcate them, it’s possible, there’s all kinds of potential to be able to reach a rational principle compromise…. I think the most interesting caucus is going to be the Republican.”
Biden said he and President Obama are “anxious” to get to work, specifically on dealing with the fiscal cliff. He said the real “takeaway” is how “Republican colleagues” are going to react, ”what judgment are they going to make, and having been a Democrat elected in 1972 by 3200 votes, I know it takes a little time to kind of digest what’s going on.”
As far as his role in a second term, Biden said he expects it to be the same, that he will play a role in debt issue, but also joked that he told the president he only wants assignments that have a “sell by date” on them.
“I think I’ll probably be asked to play a similar role on the debt issue that we did last time,” he said. “I think my reaching out to the Congress, the Senate, but I also know I’ll be doing a lot of foreign policy, so it will be whatever the issue of the day is.”
On Monday, Biden predicted to reporters that the margin in Pennsylvania would favor President Obama by five points, a prediction he was eager to point out to reporters the afternoon after the election.
“Wasn’t I right about Pennsylvania?” Biden asked. “There’s only two states I know – Delaware and Pennsylvania. Though I should know Ohio.”
Obama’s victory is partially attributed to the growing Hispanic population, which turned out overwhelmingly for the president. Biden said that those changing demographics had to be a “wake up” call for Republicans.
But while he was right about the margin in Pennsylvania, one thing on Election Night did turn out differently than the vice president expected – how early the election was called for President Obama.
“It was a late night, but it was much earlier than at least I thought we’d know what the outcome was,” Biden said, before walking back to the front of Air Force Two.