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Obama takes fiscal cliff talks on the road
REDFORD, Mich. – President Obama warned Monday that he “won’t compromise” on his demands that the wealthiest Americans pay higher tax rates, digging in on the chief sticking point between the White House and Republicans as they seek a way to avert the fiscal cliff.
Obama brought his pressure-Congress campaign to the heart of industrial America, ripping lines from his own re-election bid as the nation inched closer to a perilous economic cliff. He said the country couldn’t afford a “manufactured” crisis and pledged to cheering auto workers that he would fight to extend tax cuts for the middle class before they expire at year’s end.
“That’s a hit you can’t afford to take,” Obama declared.
Obama’s campaign-style trip to Michigan came one day after he and House Speaker John Boehner met privately at the White House. While neither side would characterize the meeting, the mere fact that the two leaders talked face-to-face was seen as progress in negotiations to avoid a series of year-end tax hikes and spending cuts.

Bipartisan group favors deep defense cuts

– Substantial reductions in military spending should be part of any budget deal that President Obama negotiates with Congress to avert the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, a group of House Republicans and Democrats said Monday.

With just three weeks to the double economic hit, 22 lawmakers endorsed further cuts in projected military spending to address the nation’s debt, arguing that long-term, strategic reductions were possible with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown in Afghanistan.

“As we transition from wartime to peacetime, and as we confront our nation’s fiscal challenges, future defense budgets should reflect the conclusion of these wars and acknowledge that our modern military is able to approach conflicts utilizing fewer but more advanced resources,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Obama and congressional leaders.

The lawmakers said “substantial defense savings” could be achieved without undermining national security, and they urged Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other congressional leaders to include such savings in any agreement.

Signing the letter were Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who earlier this year led a coalition of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans in persuading the House to cut $1.1 billion from a $608 billion defense bill. It was the clearest signal yet that defense dollars would no longer be spared from budget cuts in a time of astronomical deficits.

Also signing the letter were Reps. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

If the two sides fail to reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, the military would face automatic, across-the-board cuts totaling $55 billion next year and close to $500 billion over 10 years.

The lawmakers wrote that they had serious concerns about those arbitrary cuts, but they support the general intent to improve the nation’s fiscal health.

“We know the United States can maintain the best fighting force in the world while also pursuing sensible defense savings,” they wrote. “How we spend our resources is just as important as how much we spend. The true foundation of our military power is not dollars or equipment, but the men and women of our armed forces, who have no equal.”

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