Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) on MSNBC Live on what President Obama should expect in his upcoming meeting with Republicans at the White House.
Four weeks after an election that dramatically shifted the balance of power in Washington, President Obama is meeting with congressional leaders from both parties Tuesday to begin hashing out potential compromises on key issues, most prominently the fate of tax rates set to expire by year’s end.
In a preemptive gesture, Obama announced Monday that he would seek a two-year freeze in pay for all federal workers, seen as the first in a series of White House moves to seize the initiative from Republicans on the economy.
Tuesday morning, Republicans set their own marker before the meeting. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner wrote in the Washington Post that they are prepared “to work with anyone, from either party, who is ready to focus on the priorities of the American people.”
“Republicans got the message voters have been delivering for more than a year,” the leaders wrote. “That’s why we made a pledge to America to cut spending, rein in government, and permanently extend the current tax rates so small-business owners won’t get hit with a massive tax hike at the end of December. That’s what Americans want. And that’s the message Republicans will bring to the meeting today.”
Obama and many congressional Democrats have said they could only support extending George W. Bush-era tax cuts for middle-class Americans, and would let lapse the lower rates for individuals earning more than $250,000 a year. Also on the Democrats’ agenda is a deal that would extend unemployment insurance benefits for an additional three months, which would benefit approximately 4 million Americans.
On Monday, the White House lowered the expectations for the meeting, saying it was unlikely to produce any immediate deals.
“I think this is the beginning of a new relationship with leaders in the House and the Senate,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. “I think this is the beginning of a longer-term conversation about how we get to compromises on issues that we know are important for the American people.”
Eric Cantor, the House Republican whip and likely majority leader in the new Congress, told NBC News he hoped all parties would leave the meeting “with a resolve to try and address the economy,” adding that for Republicans that means ensuring tax rates hold steady for all Americans.
Representing the White House at the meeting will be Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Jack Lew, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Obama is scheduled to speak to reporters in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building after the meeting concludes.