Obama says he’s not caving on tax cuts

November 12, 2010

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — President Obama declared Friday that his “No. 1 priority” is preserving tax cuts for the middle class, and sharply denied that comments by his senior adviser David Axelrod suggest that his administration is about to cave in to Republicans who also want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

“That is the wrong interpretation because I haven’t had a conversation with Democratic and Republican leaders,” Obama said of a Huffington Post article suggesting that in advance of negotiations with lawmakers next week, the White House has calculated that giving in on tax cuts for the rich is the only way to get the middle class cuts extended too.

“Here’s the right interpretation — I want to make sure that taxes don’t go up for middle class families starting on January 1,” Obama said at a news conference at the conclusion of the G-20 Summit in South Korea. “That is my No. 1 priority for those families and for our economy. I also believe that it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to permanently extend the high income tax cuts.

“I think that would be a mistake, particularly when we’ve got our Republican friends saying that their No. 1 priority is making sure that we are dealing with our debt and our deficit,” he said.

Obama would not tip his hand on the discussions coming when Congress returns to work for a lame-duck session next week.

“I’m not going to negotiate here in Seoul, my job is to negotiate back in Washington with Democratic and Republican leaders,” he said.

The president also seemed to give outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi an unofficial but tacit endorsement in her bid to remain in the Democratic leadership as House minority leader.

Asked by a reporter whether he believes fellow Democrats in Congress should get some “new blood,” Obama praised Pelosi as a “terrific partner” despite some conservative Democrats in Washington griping that she should not stay in power.

To read more, visit: http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/11/12/obama.tax.cuts/

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