"The President would veto, as he has said and I and others have said for quite some time, any bill that extends the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2% of wage earners in this country," the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a news conference yesterday.
Carney's remarks came moments after Obama made his maiden public appearance at the White House after his re-election and called for increasing the tax on the rich while asserting that he would not let any tax increase on the middle class.
"What the President made clear again today and has said for quite some time is that he would sign, right now, the bill that passed the Senate that extends tax cuts for 98% of the American people," Carney said.
"This is a simple and easy way to address a large chunk of the uncertainty created by the so-called fiscal cliff, for those who don't engage in Beltway parlance - by the series of deadlines that include expiration of these tax cuts that would cause uncertainty and damage to the economy if they're not dealt with," he said.
Extending those tax cuts for 98% of the American people would deal with more than half, in dollar terms, of the impact caused by the fiscal cliff, he said.
"There are other challenges that we would need to address, including the sequester. But Congress ought to, the House ought to pass those tax cuts right away because it would send a tremendous positive signal to the American people that in the wake of this election we can, at the very least, come together and convert into law a bill that everyone agrees should become law -- Republicans and Democrats alike, the President included. And we will then continue to work on those issues where we have broader disagreement," he said.
Next week, Obama has invited leaders of Congress here to the White House. He would also be meeting business leaders and labour leaders and others to get their input and ideas about how to move forward.
"He does have his own very specific plan that reduces the deficit by $4 trillion, that does it in a balanced way, that ensures that we can continue to invest in education and infrastructure, and research and development of the elements that are so key to sustained economic growth, but that he's not wedded to every detail of that plan," Carney said.
Carney said Obama understands that the message of the election was that the American people want action, not political posturing and argument.
"They want action. There really is, in the bill that passed the Senate, an opportunity to do some very good work for the American people, very good work for the American economy right away to send a signal that cooperation and compromise is possible," he said.