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Obama Appeals to Business Leaders in Interview

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Reid echoed Obama’s talking points on the fiscal cliff Tuesday afternoon after the president’s interview with Bloomberg Television.

President Barack Obama appealed to business leaders Tuesday in a lengthy television interview, emphasizing the role that they have to play in long-term fiscal stability and advancing national interests, as lawmakers offered counterpoints on Capitol Hill.

The White House chose to have Obama sit for the interview with the financial news outlet Bloomberg Television in the Map Room.

“I recognize that, in the first four years, my relationship with the business community sometimes was skewed, because we’re trying to do some tough things like health care reform and most particularly around welfare — Wall Street reform and — and Dodd-Frank,” Obama said. “But in conversations I’ve had with CEOs, what I’ve encouraged them to tell me is, how can — how can we work together so that you can succeed?”

Specifically, Obama criticized the Monday offer to avert the tax and spending mess that looms at the end of December made by Speaker John A. Boehner and other House Republicans. Obama said it was not sufficient and again stressed the need to allow tax rates to increase on taxpayers in the top bracket.

“The issue right now that’s relevant is the acknowledgment that if we’re going to raise revenues that are sufficient to balance with the very tough cuts that we’ve already made and the further reforms in entitlements that I’m prepared to make, that we’re going to have to see the rates on the top 2 percent go up. And we’re not going to be able to get a deal without it,” Obama said. “It’s not me being stubborn. It’s not me being partisan. It’s just a matter of math. You know, there’s been a lot of talk that somehow we can raise $800 billion or $1 trillion worth of revenue just by closing loopholes and deductions, but a lot of your viewers understand that the only way to do that would be if you completely eliminated, for example, charitable deductions.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., echoed that point when speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon.

“They’ve got to come [up] with some specific revenue,” Reid said of House Republicans. “It’s a simple question, as President [Bill] Clinton said, of arithmetic. Arithmetic. You can’t get from here to there unless you raise the rates. You can’t do it.”

In the Tuesday interview, Obama said that if there are to be specific entitlement cuts, there should also be significant assurances about the revenue side of the ledger.

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