Obama: No Deal On Fiscal Cliff Without Higher Tax Rates For Wealthy

Bloomberg TV's Julianna Goldman spoke with President Obama today to discuss the fiscal cliff and his efforts to compromise with Republican leaders. In a lengthy interview in the Map Room of the White House, President Obama told Goldman that he is willing to make further cuts in entitlements, but insists that Republicans accept higher tax rates for top earners in the US.

President Obama says there will be no deal if tax rates are not raised on the rich.

JULIANNA GOLDMAN: But this just sounds like the same old Washington gridlock. Speaker Boehner was here at the White House last night for a Christmas party. The two of you didn't even speak. What's it going to take to get the two of you in a room to hash this out?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Speaker Boehner and I speak frequently. And, you know, I think the issue right now –

GOLDMAN: So when? When will the two of you sit down in a room?

OBAMA: You know, I don't think that the issue right now has to do with sitting in a room. 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.

And understand, Julianna, the reason for that. 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. Well, if you eliminated charitable deductions, that means every hospital and university and not-for-profit agency across the country would suddenly find themselves on the verge of collapse. So that's not a realistic option.

When you look at how much revenue you can actually raise by closing loopholes and deductions, it's probably in the range of $ 300 billion to $ 400 billion. That's not enough to come up with a balanced plan that actually reduces the deficit and puts us on the path of long-term stability.

So what I'm going to need, what the country needs, what the business community needs, in order to get to where we need to be, is an acknowledgment that folks like me can afford to pay a little bit higher rate. If we combine that with a tax reform process and entitlement reform, then we can get to a $ 4 trillion deficit reduction package that actually helps our economy grow, rather than weakens our economy, either in the short term or in the long term.

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