Key Democratic and Republican players began staking out their positions ahead of a seven-week fight over tax and spending cuts on Wednesday, just hours after President Obama won reelection. Vice President Joe Biden told reporters the election results represented "a clear sort of mandate about people coming much closer to our view about how to deal with tax policy."
Pressed on whether he thought Republicans might be willing to compromise on some tax and spending issues, Biden said, "I think we can move... I think we can do something on corporate taxes sooner than later. That would be positive, be a little confidence-building."
The vice president said he thought it would take time for Republicans to digest "the consequences for them internally."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, repeated his party's insistence that tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year be extended for all income levels, not just those below $250,000 as Democrats have suggested.
"A 'balanced' approach isn't balanced if it means higher tax rates on the small businesses that are key to getting our economy moving again and keeping it moving," Boehner said
. That message was backed in separate statements from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
, R-Va., and Rep. David Camp
, R-Mich., the chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee. Still, Boehner suggested Republicans could be open to new revenue "if it comes from growth and reform." And he told rank-and-file members
on a conference call to act as one and consider putting tax reform and closing loopholes on the table.
Boehner, Camp and Cantor each said that Tuesday's vote represented a mandate that both parties work together on averting the looming fiscal cliff--the combination of expiring tax cuts and impending spending cuts set to come due at the end of the year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also chimed in, repeating his frequent assertion that Congress should act during its two-month "lame duck" session.
"Waiting for a month, six weeks, six months, that's not going to solve the problem," he said at a press conference. "We know what needs to be done. And so I think that we should just roll up our sleeves and get it done."
Biden, Reid, Boehner, Camp and Cantor, along with Obama, are all expected to play key roles in the negotiations over averting the cliff.