The White House confirmed Thursday that President Obama is prepared to veto legislation that would skirt the so-called “fiscal cliff” — a battery of tax hikes and spending cuts — unless Republicans consent to raise taxes on top earners.
The move drew renewed accusations from rival Mitt Romney that the president has chosen to “simply ignore” Republicans on the Hill instead of dealing with the problem. According to one account, Obama hasn’t so much as spoken with House Speaker John Boehner since July.
The fresh reports have suddenly woven the “fiscal cliff” emergency back into the campaign debate in the closing weeks of the race. Congress is preparing to take up the issue in the post-election, lame-duck session, but with lawmakers on recess and the president on the campaign trail little is expected to be accomplished until then.
Romney’s campaign on Thursday blamed the president for the inaction.
“His approach would let our economy sink into recession for the sake of pursuing job-killing tax increases. 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. We can’t afford four more years of this failed leadership,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “When Mitt Romney is president, he [will] work with members of both parties to cut spending, restore our AAA credit rating and get our economy growing again.”
The double-blow of tax hikes and spending cuts is scheduled to hit starting in January. It includes the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates, along with defense and other cuts set into place by lawmakers’ failure to reach a deficit-reduction deal in the wake of the 2011 fight over raising the debt ceiling.
The White House on Thursday confirmed an earlier Washington Post story that Obama is prepared to turn down any bill that would avoid the “cliff” without raising tax rates on top earners. Press Secretary Jay Carney described that threat as nothing new.
Asked Thursday whether Obama would veto legislation that excludes those higher taxes win or lose, Carney did not say — though he voiced confidence in the president’s chances: “First of all, he’s not going to lose the election.”
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