President Barack Obama is hardening his stance in his first post-election confrontation with Republicans, declaring he will make no deal on the country’s fiscal future unless congressional leaders first accept tax rate increases on top earners.
During an appearance yesterday on Bloomberg Television, Obama’s first media interview since his re-election, the president paired his ultimatum on taxes with signals he is ready to make concessions to Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s calls for cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare health insurance for the elderly.
His demands on taxes and a public relations offensive to engage voters are a shift from Obama’s approach to the budget battles of the last two years, reflecting greater political leverage after his re-election and lessons the administration has drawn from past negotiations.
“He is in a much stronger position now and he’s acting like it,” said Paul Begala, a Democratic communications strategist who worked in President Bill Clinton’s White House. “This is a very different negotiating position than last time.”
Many Democrats criticized Obama for agreeing to an extension of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in December 2010 and for focusing on private negotiations with Boehner on raising the debt limit in 2011 rather than mounting a public appeal.