One month after signing into law a "fiscal cliff" deal upping taxes on American families making more than $450,000 a year, President Obama said today there's "no doubt" additional revenue is needed to bring down the U.S. deficit, but believes lawmakers can do it "without raising taxes again."
"I don't think the issue right now is raising rates," the president said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley. "There's no doubt we need additional revenue, coupled with smart, spending reductions in order to bring down our deficit. And we can do it in a gradual way so that it doesn't have a huge impact."
Rather than raising taxes, the president proposed gutting government waste, reforming health care - "we spend a lot more on health care than any other country does, and we don't get better outcomes," he said - and closing loopholes that he suggested allow wealthy Americans to manipulate their tax rates.
"Can we close loopholes and deductions that folks who are well connected, and have a lot of accountants and lawyers, can take advantage of, so they end up paying lower rates than say, a bus driver or a cop?" Mr. Obama asked. "The average person can't take advantage of them.
"The average person doesn't have access to Cayman Island accounts," the president continued, in what may have been a punch at 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's "tax haven" in the Caribbean. "The average person doesn't have access to 'carried interest income,' where they end up paying a much lower rate on billions of dollars that they've earned.
"...We just want to make sure that the whole system is fair, that it's transparent, and that we're reducing our deficit in a way that doesn't hamper growth reduce the kinds of strategies that we need," he concluded.
Earlier this week, a new GDP report showed the U.S. economy shrank 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Mr. Obama reasoned that a sudden drop in defense spending amid the so-called "fiscal cliff" was to blame, and called on Congress to act to avert a series of automatic spending cuts set to trigger in March.
"Washington cannot continually operate under a cloud of crisis," he said. "That freezes up consumers, it gets businesses worried. We can't afford these self-inflicted wounds. There is a way for us to solve these budget problems in a responsible way, through a balanced approach... if we do that, there's no reason why we can't have really strong growth in 2013."