White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that President Barack Obama is willing to talk about extending Bush-era tax cuts to the wealthy for a year or two as part of a deal with Republicans to extend middle-class tax cuts.
“He’d be open to having that discussion and open to listening to what the debate is on both sides of that,” Gibbs told reporters.
“Obviously ... making those tax cuts for the upper end permanent is something that the president does not believe is a good idea.”
Gibbs said he expects debate on the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which are set to expire this year, to take up a lot of time in Congress’ lame-duck session later this month. The issue is also likely to come up when Obama sits down with Congressional leaders from both parties on Nov. 18 to discuss their plans for the session, he said.
After months of rejecting the idea of extending the Bush tax cuts to families that make more than $250,000 a year, the president signaled a new willingness to doing so at a Wednesday news conference. He called the middle-class tax cut extension one of his “top priorities” and said he is “absolutely” open to negotiating with Republicans on extending the cuts for upper-income earners as well, in order to advance the issue.
“My goal is to make sure that we don’t have a huge spike in taxes for middle-class families,” he said.