For the first time, the Obama administration is showing some flexibility by deploying Vice President Joe Biden to explain to the media that raising rates on top earners to Clinton rates would not be an unbreakable precondition for negotiations over the fiscal cliff. In the past, Biden has often floated trial balloons on behalf of the Obama administration – including, most recently, Obama’s evolution on gay marriage, which Biden presaged by several days.
Biden said today, “There are two irreducible minimum requirements for us. 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%.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney has said in the past that Obama might not require the Clinton tax rates, but he’d require something close.