WASHINGTON — Obama senior adviser David Plouffe predicted that the fiscal cliff negotiations are "going to get hairy" in the coming weeks, saying President Barack Obama is committed to achieving the elusive "big deal" on taxes and spending he and Speaker of the House John Boehner have tried to strike for more than 18 months.
In post-election remarks at the University of Delaware, Plouffe warned of "paralysis" if both parties remain beholden to their base, saying Obama is looking for a deal that sets the country on the right fiscal path for a 10- to 20-year period.
"The only way that gets done is for Republicans again to step back and get mercilessly criticized by Grover Norquist and the Right, and it means that Democrats are going to have to do some tough things on spending and entitlements that means that they'll criticized on by their left," Plouffe said at his alma mater in conversation with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt.
The senior White House adviser repeated Obama's opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts on those earning more than $250,000 a year, but expressed openness to a tax reform deal that could potentially lower what the wealthy pay.
“What we also want to do is engage in a process of tax reform that would ultimately produce lower rates, even potentially for the wealthiest," he said, referring to benefits from corporate tax reform.
Plouffe added that while the White House wants to engage in comprehensive tax reform, they know they must also "carefully" address the "chief drivers of our deficit": Medicare and Medicaid.