* Republican leader Boehner to also make statement
* Congressional Budget Office stresses need for deficit deal
By Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON, Nov 9 President Barack Obama will
join the battle over the U.S. "fiscal cliff" on Friday for the
first time since voters gave him a second term in office,
setting the stage for a showdown with congressional Republicans
over sharp tax hikes and spending cuts slated to take effect
early next year.
Obama is to make a statement from the East Room of the
White House at 1:05 p.m. EST (1805 GMT). His opening move in
what is expected to be a tense negotiation to avert the
so-called "fiscal cliff" was telegraphed Thursday by a top
adviser, David Plouffe, who claimed a mandate from Tuesday's
election victory to raise taxes on the wealthy.
That set up a clash with the Republican-controlled House of
Representatives, whose leader, Speaker John Boehner, reiterated
on Thursday his opposition to any increase in tax rates.
Boehner has scheduled his own news conference for Friday
morning ahead of the president's statement.
The "fiscal cliff" of steep government spending cuts and tax
rises due to be implemented under existing law in early 2013 may
cut the federal budget deficit, but economists warn it also
could tip the economy back into recession.
While disagreeing on immediate measures to avert the looming
fiscal crisis, Obama and Republicans may find common ground in
calls for enactment over the next six months of a larger package
of deficit reduction measures, including a rewrite of U.S. tax
The president called for negotiations on such a "grand
bargain" during his campaign.
Obama, who defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a
race in which the two candidates offered different visions for
spurring the sluggish economy, is not expected to put forward a
new or specific plan.
Instead, he is more likely to urge Congress to tackle the
fiscal cliff during its post-election session that begins next
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reiterated
Thursday that if left unaddressed, the abrupt fiscal tightening
would knock the economy back into recession, with unemployment
rates soaring back to about 9 percent.
But it also warned of a crisis ahead if the United States
does not stem the growth of its exploding deficit.
Congressional Republicans, who stress spending cuts, have
already begun to stake out their position on ways to spare the
already modest economic recovery from a fiscal shock.
The president's advisers told reporters earlier on Thursday
that dealing with the fiscal cliff would be an immediate
priority. The administration sees Obama's re-election as an
endorsement of his position that affluent Americans should see
their taxes rise, they said.
"One of the messages that was sent by the American people
throughout this campaign is ... (they) clearly chose the
president's view of making sure that the wealthiest Americans
are asked to do a little bit more in the context of reducing our
deficit in a balanced way," senior White House adviser David