Update 11/16/2012, 5:03 p.m. EST:
The meeting between President Barack Obama and Republican leaders, among others, was a positive one, with both sides of the aisle seeming to find common ground in order to move this nation forward economically, according to the Associated Press.
Appearing jovial and at ease, Speaker of the House John Boehner said he was open to increasing revenue “as long as it is accompanied by spending cuts,” a key provision in the Republican base.
On the other side of the aisle, Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi didn’t reject the GOP-cutting provision, saying, “I feel confident that a solution may be in sight.”
In the President’s second meeting with civic leaders, the Rev. Al Sharpton (pictured above) released a statement that maintained that the energy in the room was “productive.” Sharpton made sure to drive home the plight of African Americans and Latinos, saying that cuts to unemployment, Social Security, and Medicaid, would be “devastating” to our communities.
The meeting was very candid and productive and we were able to share our concerns about the impact that the fiscal cliff negotiations could have on our constituents.
Importantly, we heard the direct response of the President and Vice President about their commitment towards doing what is right for the American people. I expressed that position that National Action Network and I feel that African-Americans and Latinos will face disproportionate negative impacts if there is any change in spending when it relates to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and across-the-board program cuts.
Since we are also disproportionately the longest-term uninsured in this country, the cancellation of unemployment insurance would be devastating in our community. The need to maintain tax cuts for the middle-class and working poor while making the wealthy pay their fair share is as appropriate as it is prudent.
While there are major decisions to be made between now and the New Year, this initial meeting is a good start. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added after the vital meeting, “Both sides agreed that while there may be differences in our preferred approaches, we will continue a constructive process to find a solution and come to a conclusion as soon as possible.”
Time will tell if the Republicans decide to keep things civil — and bipartisan — in the months to come.
On Friday, President Barack Obama will meet with Congress and civic leaders, such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rev. Al Sharpton, Speaker of the House John Boehner, NAACP President Ben Jealous, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in two separate meetings to find a balanced solution to the deficit, while strengthening the economy.
Coined the “fiscal cliff” just days after the President won re-election last week, the President could barely enjoy his win before Boehner asked Obama to “lead” against the ominous “fiscal cliff.”
By last Friday, Boehner held a press conference on whether he — and his fellow Republicans — were willing to work with the President on finding a solution to the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the top of next year.
In a disappointing address, Boehner seemed to suggest that he would continue to drive home the tax policy points of failed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, saying that while he was still against raising taxes for the rich, he and his party would agree to budget cuts involving Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, although no specifics on how that would be achieved were given. In addition Boehner said:
“2013 should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform. I’m proposing that we avert the fiscal cliff together in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us.”
Later that Friday at the White House, the President, while offering an olive branch to all who are willing to ameliorate the lives of the American people, stuck to his guns by saying that he intended to press the will of the people by increasing taxes for the rich and that he would sign a bill that would extend tax cuts for the middle class immediately:
“Even as we’re negotiating a broader deficit reduction package, let’s extend the middle-class tax cuts right now. That one step would give millions of families, 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses the certainty that they need going into the new year.
“It would immediately take a huge chunk of the economic uncertainty off the table. In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill doing exactly this, so all we need is action from the House. And I’ve got the pen ready to sign the bill right away. I’m ready to do it. I’m ready to do it.”
With hope, Republicans will drop the obstructionism of yesteryear and adopt a sincere plan of bipartisanship for the American people. If not, taxes for the middle class will immediately go up, and with many families still reeling from the Great Recession, this would mean kicking many of them when they are already down.
But the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts just won’t be bad news for the middle class.
In a recent poll conducted by Hart Research’s Geoff Garin, pollsters found that the majority of Americans will blame Republicans for the tax increase.
“…67 percent of voters said “the goal of tax fairness” was a consideration in their vote, and 58 percent of them backed Obama, while 40 percent backed Romney. Also per the [poll], 61 percent say they agree with Obama’s position on extending the tax cuts for all but the top two percent of earners, and by a 15-point margin they will blame Republicans if a deal can’t be reached.”