Republican leaders favor just such a policy of "tax reform" that lowers or maintains current income tax rates.
Earlier this month, however, Obama told business leaders that higher tax rates on the nation's wealthiest earners are essential to reaching necessary revenue targets. He's now asking for $1.6 trillion over 10 years, but lawmakers say a compromise of $1.2 trillion, or less, is possible.
"We're not insisting on rates just out of spite or out of any kind of partisan bickering, but rather because we need to raise a certain amount of revenue," Obama told members of the Business Roundtable.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer calls Obama's revised views "situational mathematics."
â¿¿ Social Security: Last year, Obama engaged in closed-door negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, seeking a "grand bargain" for deficit-reduction. The talks ultimately failed, but the two men staked out positions that still follow them.
Obama agreed to a less generous cost-of-living adjustment formula for Social Security, the popular but costly entitlement program for older Americans. He knew liberals would dislike it. But then, as now, Republicans said they would never agree to higher tax revenues without curbs on projected entitlement spending.
Now, the White House says Social Security should not be part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.
"We're prepared to, in a separate process, look at how to strengthen Social Security," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said this month on ABC's "This Week." ''But not as part of a process to reduce the other deficits the country faces."
â¿¿ New Revenue Target. In last year's "grand bargain" negotiations, Obama sought $1.2 trillion in new tax revenues over 10 years. But he signaled he could live with the $800 billion that Boehner proposed, if it accompanied a smaller batch of spending cuts.
Now, Obama says $1.6 trillion in new revenue is needed to help tame the nation's borrowing habits. Boehner is sticking with $800 billion.