Possible Fiscal Cliff Savior: Semantics

Wealthy can pay more, even if tax rates don't rise

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 9, 2012 2:30 PM CST

(Newser) – It sure sounds like President Obama and John Boehner are at loggerheads when it comes to a deal to avert the fiscal cliff: Obama insists the richest Americans must pay more in taxes, while Boehner says the House will never approve a rate increase. But therein lies the wiggle room:

  • Washington Post: "Notably, Obama did not say rates must rise on upper-income Americans—only that they must pay more in taxes—leaving room for a potential compromise."

Meaning, they might be able to figure out a deal that requires the wealthy to pay more without jacking rates.

  • The Hill elaborates: "Both have talked about raising tax revenue without raising rates, but it is unclear whether this would forbid higher tax rates on investment income such as capital gains and dividends, or on the estate tax."
  • Politico, too: "The president didn’t call for higher tax rates on the rich, just on raising more revenues from them, which could be done by eliminating loopholes and deductions."
  • New York Times: Any deal "now revolves around the definition of tax increases. Mr. Boehner is holding the line against any increase in tax rates, even for the richest Americans that currently are in the 35 percent tax bracket. But he is leaving open the possibility of a reformed tax code that does raise more revenue than the existing code."

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio calls on a reporter during a news conference on Capitol Hill Friday.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio calls on a reporter during a news conference on Capitol Hill Friday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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