‘Looser’ Obama Riffs on Taxes, Trade, Regulations, Immigration, GOP
President Barack Obama is starting to open up, six years into the job.
Indeed, the remark itself would never have been made public under the old White House policy of kicking out the press for the all-important Q&As the president regularly has with business leaders and donors. The president spoke at length on a host of issues from trade to taxes to working with Republicans.
In particular, he held out hope the Republicans would work with him on a corporate tax reform package that would yield one-time revenue from repatriating profits for transportation. “There is definitely a deal to be done,” he said.
Obama said the business community would probably need to be united even though there would be trade-offs in a package that did away with individual breaks in return for lower rates. He allowed that Republican desires to include individual tax reform might be a hangup, noting his insistence that middle class families not be left with a higher tax burden.
But he said a deal could come together in six to nine months.
As for tax extenders, the president said he was open to another short-term extension but wasn’t prepared to sign something that didn’t protect middle class tax breaks, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, the child tax credit and the college tuition tax credit.
Obama was also asked why he didn’t ask Congress to “just pass a bill” raising the gas tax in the lame duck and solve the transportation funding issue.
“I’d potentially take you up on that offer” to raise the gas tax, Obama said. But “in fairness to members of Congress,” he said, gas tax votes are “really tough.”
Obama also said that while he is confident in being able to roll back Islamic State’s gains in Iraq, taking on the terrorist group in Syria was a longer-term challenge because of the civil war in that country.
And on the federal deficit, Obama said he wants to “keep our deficits low” while investing in things like early childhood education and infrastructure.
The White House has touted that the deficit — $483 billion last year — has dropped quickly in recent years and is now below 3 percent of GDP.
It remains to be seen if the new, looser Obama will continue. Josh Earnest was asked by The Associated Press at Wednesday’s briefing if the White House would make Q&A’s open to the public as a standard practice.
Earnest declined to go that far
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.