President Barack Obama predicted Republicans would cave on his demand for higher taxes on the wealthy, while signaling he’s prepared to make concessions on entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare in return, in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters.
“I’m pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle-class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” Obama said in an interview taped Tuesday. “I don’t think they’ll do that.”
Obama said that the tone of his private conversations with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, are “good” and that he would still like to see a big package.
“I believe that both Speaker Boehner and myself and the other leaders want to see a deal happen. And the question now is can we get it done. The outlines, the framework of what a deal should look like are pretty straightforward,” he said.
Obama also said he was prepared to give on spending if Republicans moved on taxes, and he did not dismiss the idea of raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67.
“If the Republicans can move on [taxes], then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side,” Obama said.
As for the Medicare age, Obama was skeptical — but acknowledged changes need to be made to Medicare and Social Security.
“When you look at the evidence, it’s not clear that it actually saves a lot of money,” he said. “But what I’ve said is let’s look at every avenue because what is true is we need to strengthen Social Security, we need to strengthen Medicare for future generations. The current path is not sustainable because we’ve got an aging population and health care costs are shooting up so quickly.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.