Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he told President Obama that now is not the time to increase taxes.
Grassley was among a small group of 18 Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate who met this morning with Obama in the White House. Grassley says when it was his turn to speak, he gave Obama this advice: “He announced a year ago now, contrary to what he said during the campaign and I can understand why he did because we had a recession he didn’t anticipate during the campaign — and how deep it was, that he was not going to increase taxes because it would be bad for the recovery. And I said, since we aren’t any better off than we were 12 months ago and maybe a little worse off from the standpoint of unemployment, he needs to make the same announcement because we should not have a tax increase.”
Obama invited Grassley and the other lawmakers to a private meeting at the White House to discuss “the next steps for growing the economy.” According to Grassley, the president brought up the topic of “free trade” and suggested increasing exports to Asia would create a million jobs in the U.S.
“But what we’re seeing, I told him, is dithering on (the part of the Obama) Administration in regard to the free trade agreements and I used (South) Korea as an example,” Grassley says. “It ought to be sent up here (to the Senate). It ought to be approved. It’d be the best thing for us since the Canadian Free Trade agreement. It creates jobs as well because Korea is a big trading partner of ours and a free trade agreement would really be beneficial to us.”
Grassley says the Europeans are rushing to solidify trade relationships with the South Koreans, but if the U.S. “dithers” any more, Grassley believes we’ll “lose out” to Europe. Grassley is the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, the panel that reviews U.S. trade agreements and drafts U.S. tax policy.
After the meeting, President Obama said he is “absolutely committed to working with anybody who is willing to do the job to make sure we rebuild our economy.” Grassley says there’s a “very good chance” a bipartisan jobs bill can be developed if the president is willing to “rely more” on tax breaks rather than new spending.
“Getting jobs is number one in people’s minds,” Grassley says. “They want us to deal with the problems of the economy.”
Grassley made his comments during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa, right after the White House meeting concluded.