President Obama Wednesday tried to enlist business leaders in the battle on the "fiscal cliff," saying the U.S. economy can't afford more partisan bickering.
Obama met with the Business Roundtable at a Washington office building.
The session followed Republican rejection of Obama's proposal for avoiding the simultaneous Jan. 1 expiration of the tax cuts adopted during the George W. Bush administration, other breaks incorporated since then and draconian spending cuts that were supposed to push Congress into taking action on the deficit, and the White House rejection of a plan floated by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, which conservative Republicans refused to back.
Obama has called for $1.6 billion in tax increases, $50 million in stimulus spending and executive power to raise the federal debt limit without congressional approval. He told those attending Wednesday's roundtable session his approach is balanced.
"We're prepared to make some tough decisions when it comes to spending cuts," he said but reiterated new revenue has to be part of the package.
Obama, whose remarks were interrupted by problems with the sound system, said in private discussions, business leaders have told him they were willing to pay slightly higher taxes.
Obama warned Republicans not to hold the debt ceiling hostage as they did in 2011, bringing the United States to the brink of default and forcing a lowering of the U.S. credit rating. He called it a "bad strategy" and said he "will not play that game."
Boehner Monday offered $800 billion in new tax revenue, an offer that was immediately rejected by the White House as too vague and a failure to acknowledge the need to raise taxes on incomes of more than $250,000.
Conservatives assailed the proposal as well.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a leading member of the Tea Party movement, said the Boehner plan "will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more."
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who heads the Republican Study Committee, an influential group of conservatives, said his fellow Ohioan's proposal on behalf of the GOP-controlled House amounted to a tax increase, "and I am not going to vote for a tax increase because it hurts economic growth."
Boehner had no immediate comment on the criticism. His proposal said the $800 billion in revenue could be raised without raising tax rates and by simply closing loopholes and eliminating deductions in a broad tax-code rewrite. Obama has said that would hit the middle class disproportionately.
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