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Obama Claims Tax Policy Mandate

“I just want to point out, this was a central point in this election,” he said, discussing raising taxes for the wealthy. “So let’s get to work.”

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) delivers a statement on the U.S. “fiscal cliff” in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 9, 2012, as Vice President Joe Biden looks on. Jason Reed / Reuters

WASHINGTON, DC — President Barack Obama claimed a mandate on tax policy Friday, in his first official comments since election night.

Speaking from the East Room, the president once again called for a “balanced” approach to cutting the deficit and solving the nation’s fiscal issues in the coming months — laying out a requirement for wealthy Americans to pay more in taxes in any compromise with congressional Republicans.

“I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas. I’m committed to solving our fiscal challenges, but I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced,” he said before a crowd of supporters, whose cheers obscured shouted questions from the White House press corps.

Obama finds himself in much the same place with congressional Republicans today as they were a year ago. Both open to compromise, but stuck on the issue of raising taxes on the wealthy. Obama is now trying to leverage his victory to break the gridlock.

Laying out his plan to keep taxes stable for middle-income Americans while raising them for the rich, Obama noted it was a “central point” in the debate between himself and Mitt Romney. “On Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach,” Obama added.

“I was encouraged to hear Speaker Boehner agree that tax revenue has to be part of this equation,” Obama said, though didn’t comment on Boehner’s opposition to any plan that raises rates on higher-income Americans.

Obama called on Congress to send him a bill to extend middle class tax cuts immediately — because it’s something where there is bipartisan agreement.

“I’ve got the pen, ready to sign the bill, right away. I’m ready to do it,” Obama said, pulling a pen from his suit coat.

To kick-start negotiations, Obama has invited Republican and Democratic leaders to the White House next week to start plotting a course to avoiding a potential economic catastrophe.

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