Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said it will be necessary to raise personal income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans to reduce long-term budget deficits, because capping deductions won’t raise enough revenue.
President Barack Obama is “not prepared to extend the upper-income tax cuts,” Geithner said today at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting in Washington. “There’s obviously universal support for the middle-class tax cuts. Doing that would remove the greatest source of anxiety and much of the greatest risk in the fiscal cliff.”
Obama has invited leaders in Congress for talks on a deal to reduce budget deficits that would avert the $607 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases slated to take effect Jan. 1. The Congressional Budget Office has forecast that the fiscal cliff would push the economy into a recession next year.
Obama, who plans to reduce the shortfalls by increasing taxes for top earners, is holding meetings with labor and business leaders in the White House this week. The talks are intended to shore up the support for his plan before Nov. 16 discussions with Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
While Obama said Nov. 6 elections showed voters back his proposal, Boehner cited public support for the re-elected House Republican majority and said that tax rates must not go up. Both sides have left room for a compromise that would curtail tax breaks to pay for preserving current rates.
The deficits add to national debt, which will most likely hit the $16.4 trillion limit at the end of December, with extraordinary measures enabling the U.S. to meet its obligations “until early in 2013,” the Treasury Department said on Oct. 31.
Geithner today said budget deficits should be brought down gradually to below 3 percent of gross domestic product to avoid damaging the prospects for economic growth.