* Senior aides say Obama wants "big deal" before year-end
* House Speaker Boehner repeats vow not to raise taxes
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON, Nov 5 If President Barack Obama wins
re-election, he's expected to move quickly, perhaps within a
day, to renew his bid for a bipartisan deal to avert a "fiscal
cliff" that threatens to push the United States into recession,
top Senate Democratic aides said on Monday.
A victorious Obama could reach out to Republicans as early
as Wednesday and pledge that, with the election decided, it's
time to find common ground to deal with the year-end expiration
of Bush-era tax cuts and the launch of automatic spending cuts
that would suck $600 billion out of the economy in 2013.
"He wants to get the process started immediately," one aide
said. "We could move quickly," another aide said, explaining
that the basic ingredients of any deal - increased tax revenues
coupled with cuts in entitlement programs - have been debated
thoroughly for the past two years.
"Everyone knows what needs to be done," he said.
Two Democratic aides said White House officials have
discussed the matter with top Senate Democrats, though it
remains unclear exactly how a re-elected Obama would proceed.
But as one aide said, the White House intends to move
quickly because it "wants a big deal" before the current
Congress adjourns in December. The White House had no comment.
If Republican challenger Mitt Romney wins, much of the work
on a deficit-reduction deal that replaces the automatic cuts and
reforms the tax code could be largely delayed until he takes
office on Jan 20.
But Republicans in Congress would quickly launch an effort
to delay the cuts and keep tax rates unchanged for six months to
a year to buy time for a comprehensive tax reform deal.
House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday that he would
angle for a temporary "bridge" to allow the new administration
and the next Congress to craft a solution.
"I would think that would be the best you can hope for, and
even that is going to be very difficult to do," Boehner, a
Republican, told CNN in an interview in his home state of Ohio.
The Democratic aides said a deficit reduction deal would
likely contain many elements from one that Obama and Boehner,
the top U.S. Republican, came close to reaching last year as
Congress wrangled over raising the federal debt limit. Both
parties have talked about trying to achieve around $4 trillion
in deficit reduction over 10 years.
Their elusive "grand bargain," which ultimately unraveled,
would have included Democrats agreeing to cuts in entitlement
programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, in exchange for
Republicans signing off on new tax revenues.
Republicans have vowed to oppose any increase in tax rates,
while Obama has demanded that tax rates on income above $250,000
snap back to higher levels. Some Republicans have expressed
willingness to allow increased revenues as part of tax reform by
eliminating some tax credits and deductions, but these have not
been identified, and they want to reduce tax rates even further.
"This thing has been litigated in Washington for two years,"
one of the Democratic aides said.
"The reason a compromise has been tough to come by is
because Republicans have been holding back, hoping to take the
Senate and the White House" on Election Day, the aide said.
On Monday, it was unclear if Obama or Romney would win the
White House, with polls in a statistical dead heat. But the
polls indicated an increasing likelihood that Democrats would
retain the Senate, which it now holds by a 53-47 margin.
Most political experts expect the House of Representatives
to remain controlled by Republicans.
"The kind of compromises that are needed are pretty much
known at this point," one aide said. "It is just a matter of
"I think the message of the election - if it returns the
president and a Democratic Senate and a Republican House - is
that voters want both sides to work together," the aide said.
"Republicans would be seen as not heeding the message of the
election if they continue to refuse to compromise," one aide
Boehner did little to fuel hopes for such a middle-ground on
Monday, reiterating his vow not to raise taxes on the wealthy
and arguing that this would hurt job creation.
"Listen, our (House) majority is going to get reelected,"
Boehner said in an interview with Politico. "We'll have as much
of a mandate as he will - if that happens - to not raise taxes."
Democrats and Republicans have until the end of December to
reach a massive deficit reduction deal or see the expiration of
all tax cuts enacted under former president George W. Bush for
millions of Americans, both the rich and middle class.
In addition, $1.2 trillion in spending cuts would begin to
kick in, delivering a blow to the economy that experts predict
would lead to a recession.
The Senate Democratic aides said the administration opposes
calls for a short-term fix, which would renew all tax cuts for
six months or so while a comprehensive agreement is sought. "The
White House is showing no sign of caving on this," an aide said.