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Biden Says Obama Could Deal On Tax Rates

Raising rates on top earners to Clinton-era levels not a prerequisite for a deal, the vice president says, as long as they rise.

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Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that the Obama administration is flexible about raising tax rates on the nation's highest earners, as long as they do rise.

"There are two irreducible minimum requirements for us," Biden said at a lunch with Americans who would be affected by the fiscal cliff. "The top brackets have to go up — this is not a negotiable issue; theoretically we can negotiate how far up. But we think it should go — the top rate should go to 39.6%."

Biden's remark is the first official acknowledgement by the White House that they are not demanding rates rise to the Clinton-era level as part of an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, carving out space for compromise with Republicans.

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