President Barack Obama talks with the TJMS.
Read full transcript below.
Tom Joyner: Big Chief?
THE PRESIDENT: Hey, man. (Laughter.) How you doing?
Tom Joyner: I’m doing good. How you doing?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I am blessed. Are we already on the air, Tom?
Tom Joyner: Yes. I’m rolling.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, listen, the reason I’m calling is just to say thank you. I’m saying thank you to you and the team, but most importantly to say thank you to the listeners because when I saw what was going on on Election Day, and just seeing everybody so determined and waiting in line and just not putting up with anything to make sure that we were able to keep moving forward on our agenda, I couldn’t have been prouder or more humbled. And I know that it was because of the efforts of folks all across the country volunteering, writing $5 checks, $10 checks. It just meant a lot. And I know I couldn’t have done it without you guys, so I wanted to let you know we appreciate you.
Sybil Wilkes: And we did it without any gifts, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: See there. We didn’t — (laughter) — well, let me just not touch that.
Tom Joyner: I know. I know.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me not go there.
Sybil Wilkes: I’m sorry. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me not go there.
Tom Joyner: Okay.
THE PRESIDENT: See, the –
Tom Joyner: We’ll go there for you. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: But really, Michelle and I, we were talking after — on Election Night, and we were just so inspired by folks all across the country. And seeing the turnout in the face of a lot of adversity was really a meaningful deal; and I think also pointed to the growing maturity of us politically where we’re not going to just sit back when stuff happens. We’re going to go ahead and fight for it. It was terrific.
So I’m excited about a second term. And obviously, we’ve got to get through some of the issues right now that we’re dealing with, including this issue of the fiscal cliff, which basically just translates into a bunch of cuts in programs and tax hikes for middle-class families unless Republicans agree to go ahead and let tax rates increase for upper-income folks.
Tom Joyner: Okay, break it down for me in 144 characters like you did –
THE PRESIDENT: On Twitter.
Tom Joyner: On Twitter.
Sybil Wilkes: On Twitter. (Laughter.)
Tom Joyner: Talk to me and black people and tell us what is the [fiscal] cliff? How is — how will it affect black people, and what can we do to help?
THE PRESIDENT: Very simple. Number one, the Bush tax cuts lapse for everybody — not just the upper-income folks — at the end of the year unless Congress acts. So what I’ve said is let’s extend the tax cuts to keep taxes low for the vast majority of your listeners — 98 percent of folks — and let’s let them go up on the top 2 percent. All right, so that’s point number one.
Point number two, there’s this thing called the sequester, which is essentially a mechanism that was set up to cut an additional trillion dollars’ worth of spending, but that would have an impact on things like social programs, education programs, things that are helping people to find jobs and to get ahead and to have health care. And it doesn’t make sense for us to just cut stuff across the board. If we’re going to make some cuts, let’s make sure it’s cutting programs that don’t work.
And so all we need to do right now is for Republicans to agree to let taxes go up on upper income folks, just like I talked about during the campaign, just like the majority of Americans agree should be done, just like even the majority of Republicans think make sense. And if we get that done, then I can combine that with some smarter cuts that — on programs we don’t need, and that way we can fund things like education and job creation and all the things that we talked about during the campaign. So we’re having a — sort of a battle with Republicans who apparently didn’t pay as much attention to the results of the election as they could have.
But this is a solvable problem. It should not be a crisis. And the main thing that I need folks to do is just contact your members of Congress and say to people, don’t let middle-class taxes go up right now. Don’t let working people carry the burden of deficit reduction when millionaires and billionaires aren’t doing their fair share.
Sybil Wilkes: Is there such a thing as compromise, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there’s definitely compromise to be had. Look, I’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts.