Obama on fiscal cliff: No party ‘can get 100% of what they want’

Updated
President Barack Obama delivers a statement on fiscal cliff at the White House December 21, 2012 in Washington, DC.
President Barack Obama delivers a statement on fiscal cliff at the White House December 21, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama has a message for lawmakers bickering over a deal to avoid the looming fiscal cliff: “Nobody can get 100% of what they want.”

The commander-in-chief made the statement at a press conference on Friday evening, where he urged House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to work on a smaller deal to make sure taxes do not go up for 98% of Americans.

“Every member of Congress believes that, every Democrat, every Republican. So there is absolutely no reason—none—not to protect these Americans from a tax hike,” he said. Obama said he hoped Congress could settle on a deal to achieve larger deficit reductions in the new year.

Obama insisted he’s already met GOPers halfway on tax cuts and spending. “I offered to compromise with Republicans in Congress. I met them halfway on taxes, and I met them more than halfway on spending,” he said, adding he’s “still ready and willing to get a comprehensive package done.”

If Obama and the Republicans can’t hammer out a deal by the end of the year, across-the-board tax hikes and big spending cuts will go into effect. Economists fear that could trigger a recession and throw world markets into turmoil.

House Speaker John Boehner’s so-called “Plan B”, which would raise taxes on those Americans making $1 million or more a year, did not even reach the House floor on Thursday after the Republican leader embarrassingly couldn’t get enough votes from his own party to pass it.

Plan B, in any case, was largely symbolic and would not have passed the Democrat-controlled Senate. Obama, meanwhile, is willing to allow taxes to go up for families who make $400,000 or more–$150,000 more than he initially wanted.

Obama, during the press conference, called on Congress to return next week to pass the legislation before Jan. 1. He urged lawmakers to take the holiday weekend to cool off.

“Everbody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing Christmas carols,” he said. Obama added that he wished “every American a Merry Christmas and because we didn’t get this done, I’ll see you, [the press], next week.”

Obama also acknowledged he met with Boehner and Reid earlier in the day. Bob Costa, of the National Review, said on Hardball that information was critical because it means the “talks are still ongoing.” He surmised that next week Americans will see some sort of compromise on Capitol Hill.

Chris Cillizza, of the Washington Post, said the key question is if Boehner can peel 20-30 Republicans and add them to the Democrats to pass a deal. The big question is if Boehner is okay with a deal “with a minority of the majority” in the House. “A lot of it still lies in Boehner’s hands,” said Cillizza.

The White House announced after the news conference that the president and his family would leave Friday to go to Hawaii for their annual holiday vacation. Obama promised he would return after Christmas to sign off on a deal to ensure tax rates don’t go up for 98% of Americans.

Obama on fiscal cliff: No party 'can get 100% of what they want'

Updated