A day after President Obama upped the ante on fiscal cliff negotiations by saying Republicans were offering Americans “a lump of coal” for Christmas, he made it clear Saturday he isn’t backing down. In his weekly address, Obama accused Republicans of holding “middle class tax cuts hostage,” saying the public needs to pressure lawmakers to prevent an increase in the taxes paid by middle-income Americans as part of the infamous fiscal cliff. “A typical middle class family of four will see their income taxes rise by $2,200,” Obama said. “We can’t let that happen. Our families can’t afford it, and neither can our economy.” The president said the public should let lawmakers know “what $2,000 means to you.” If you choose to contact your lawmaker via Twitter, Obama helpfully suggests you should use the hashtag My2K. (Watch address after the jump.)
On Friday, President Obama traveled to a toy-manufacturing company in Pennsylvania to deliver what the Washington Post calls “a verbal poke in the eye,” likening House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans in general to “one of the most reviled figures of the holiday season.” In what the Wall Street Journal describes as a “provocative set of demands,” President Obama called for a $1.6 trillion tax increase, $50 billion in infrastructure spending next year, and new power to raise the debt limit. Republicans quickly responded that offer actually signified a step away from a compromise, although they have yet to put a comparable proposal up for debate. And while some accused Democrats of overreaching, several lawmakers say Republicans are playing up their outrage for the cameras and that this is the way negotiations work, reports the Hill.
Republicans quickly responded with a video claiming Obama’s plan was bad for small business. It amounted to the “first post-election skirmish outside Congress or the White House,” points out the Los Angeles Times. And it likely won’t be the last as we enter the countdown of the final month before widespread tax hikes and spending cuts will come into effect. Democrats are trying to force Republicans to agree to an early tax-hike vote in the House, although that now seems like a long-shot at best.
While Obama tried to express optimism by saying Democrats and Republicans “can and will work together,” Boehner said that negotiations are “almost nowhere.” The next stage in this argument will undoubtedly come Sunday, when both sides will go to the political talk shows to press their case, points out Reuters.