President Obama appeared on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to act to avoid the fiscal cliff — and repeatedly blamed Republicans for the impending crisis in the event of failure.
“So far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this stuff done,” Obama said. “Not because Democrats in Congress don’t want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it’s been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package.”Although congressional leaders say discussions are ongoing, the prospects for a deal have diminished since Friday afternoon when Obama issued his ultimatum to Republicans. He again dared them to filibuster his middle class tax cut in the new Congress come Jan. 4 if they fail to reach a deal by then.
It was Obama’s first “Meet The Press” appearance since 2009. Asked by host David Gregory if he, as president, has an obligation to make sure Congress acts, Obama pointed the finger at Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“At a certain point, if folks can’t say yes to good offers, then I also have an obligation to the American people to make sure that the entire burden of deficit reduction doesn’t fall on seniors who are relying on Medicare,” Obama said. “There is a basic fairness that is at stake in this whole thing. And they listened to an entire year’s debate about it. They made a clear decision about the approach they prefer.”
“It is very important for Republicans in Congress to be willing to say, ‘we understand we are not going to get 100 percent. We are willing to compromise in a serious way to solve problems as opposed to being worried about the next election.’ … The offers I have made are so fair that a lot of Democrats get mad at me,” he said, naming the entitlement cuts he has proposed, including Medicare cuts and Social Security cuts via “Chained CPI.”
Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, chafed at Obama’s claims.
“While the President was taping those discordant remarks yesterday, Sen. McConnell was in the office working to bring Republicans and Democrats together on a solution,” he told TPM in an email. “Discussions continue today.”
A recurring theme of the president’s appearance was to take on the conventional wisdom that both parties are equally at fault for the unfolding debacle.
“The only thing I would caution against, David, is, I think this notion of ‘well, both sides are just kind of unwilling to cooperate.’ And that’s just not true,” Obama said.
Watch the interview: