President Barack Obama will enter high-stakes budget negotiations firmly committed to seeing the tax rates for high-income earners rise to pre-George W. Bush levels, he assured a gathering of progressive and labor leaders on Tuesday.
"I am not going to budge," he told the group, according to an attendee who relayed material from the meeting on condition of anonymity. "I said in 2010 that I'm going to do this once, and I meant it."
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment, but two other sources who attended the meeting confirmed the quote. The administration seems to have staked out a firmer position than during the first stand-off over the Bush-era tax cuts, in November and December of 2010, leaving the impression that it won't sign off on a compromise that doesn't increase the tax burden on the wealthy as a means of paying down the deficit.
How the president plans to effect that outcome is still unclear. Top Democrats in the Senate have said they would be comfortable letting all the tax rates expire -- as they are scheduled to do -- at the end of the year, after which they will put together a tax cut bill that would re-establish the Bush-era rates for incomes below $250,000.