President Obama makes his first post-election statement from the White House, delivering what the White House calls "a statement about the action we need to take to keep our economy growing and reduce our deficit." Here's live video:
10:06 AM PT: The remarks were scheduled for 1:05 PM, but the two-minute warning was apparently given abut 90 seconds ago.
10:08 AM PT: The president is approaching the podium. Standing behind him are a group of average taxpayers.
10:08 AM PT: "It's time to get back to work, and there's plenty of work to do."
10:09 AM PT: "I've invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week." Goal: build consensus for the economic path forward. Says he will also invite labor and business. The focus: jobs and economic growth.
10:11 AM PT: President Obama talks about the fiscal cliff as something that will force decisions about how to reduce deficit. "We can't just cut our way to prosperity," he says. Cuts alone won't work, he says—the wealthy must pay a bit more.
10:13 AM PT: The president says he's open to compromise and new ideas, "but I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced. ... I'm not going to do that."
10:13 AM PT: "This was a central question during the election," the president says. "And we found out that a majority of Americans agree" with his approach.
10:13 AM PT: Obama says he was pleased to hear Boehner is open to new revenue, but adds that he wants to hear Boehner's specific ideas.
10:15 AM PT: Obama says the easiest problem to solve is the problem of tax cuts on income below $250,000. "Let's extend the middle-class tax cuts right now. That one step would give millions of families—98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses—certainty."
10:16 AM PT: "The Senate has already passed a bill doing just this. All we need is the House to act." He holds up a pen as he says he wants to sign it into law. "I've got this pen. I'm ready to do it."
10:17 AM PT: The president's statement is now over.
10:18 AM PT: Obviously, the key here is that the one thing he was inflexible on was the notion that we should extend tax rates now on all income brackets below $250,000. If Democrats and he stand firm on that, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy will expire—and it will be up Republicans to decide whether to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage.
10:21 AM PT: To be clear, the president said he would negotiate on tax rates for the wealthy, but not as part of the year-end fiscal cliff. He wants to take the hostage out of Republican hands so that the negotiations over tax reform aren't conducted with a gun to the middle class's head.