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Obama, Boehner Dig In on Raising Taxes for Wealthy

By Ben Feller

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are signaling they're open to some compromise on a taxes and spending to prevent more financial pain in the new year, but the two sides are digging in on raising taxes for wealthier Americans. Obama said Friday that his re-election gave him a mandate to pursue that position because "the majority of Americans agree with my approach." Boehner is still insisting that raising tax rates as Obama wants "will destroy jobs in America."

The political maneuvering about the so-called fiscal cliff sets up a confrontation to see whether the White House or the House blinks first. The outcome will affect tens of millions of Americans, given that the tax hikes and budgets cuts set to kick in Jan. 1 could spike unemployment and bring on a new recession.

The presidential contest is now over, but another campaign has just begun.

The White House made its pitch directly to the public, shipping around a video by email and telling Americans that "this debate can either stay trapped in Washington or you can make sure your friends and neighbors participate."

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Obama invited the top four leaders of Congress to the White House next week for talks, right before he departs on a trip to Asia.

All sides are seeking to leave themselves room to maneuver. Despite the talk of possible compromise, both sides are taking a hard line.

Obama never expressly said that tax rates on top earners must return to the higher levels of the Bill Clinton era, leading to speculation that he was willing to soften the core position of his re-election campaign to get a grand debt deal with Republicans.

"I'm not wedded to every detail of my plan. I'm open to compromise," he said.

But his spokesman, Jay Carney, seemed to slam that door. He said Obama would veto any extension Congress might approve of tax cuts on household incomes above $250,000.
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