President Obama made his first public remarks since winning a second term this afternoon, delivering brief remarks at the White House about the looming dispute with Congress over upcoming, automatic spending cuts. (The president did not field any questions after his seven-minute speech.)
To the extent that Obama repeated many of the same points he stressed during the campaign, today's remarks didn't exactly break new ground, but there was some noteworthy elements. The president noted, for example, that he'll host congressional leaders from both parties at the White House next week for the first round of formal talks.
Obama also said "our top priority has to be jobs and growth," which matters since so many on the right believe our top priority has to be deficit reduction.
But this was the most politically relevant part:
"[A]s I've said before, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue -- and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That's how we did it in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president. That's how we can reduce the deficit while still making the investments we need to build a strong middle class and a strong economy. [...]
"I want to be clear -- I'm not wedded to every detail of my plan. I'm open to compromise. I'm open to new ideas. I'm committed to solving our fiscal challenges. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced."
The president went on to say, without any real subtlety, that he has a mandate on this, and the American mainstream agrees with his position -- he's not going to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts, and the Republican hostage strategy won't work.
For his part, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued again this morning that he'll oppose any effort to increase any tax by any amount on anyone at any time for any reason.
Next week's talks at the White House ought to be all kinds of fun.