President Obama denied he will accept extensions of the Bush-era tax cuts on Friday in Seoul, one day after reports surfaced his Senior Adviser David Axelrod said the administration might be willing to accept the extensions for all tax brackets, not just the middle class.
"That is the wrong interpretation because I haven't had a conversation with Republican and Democratic leaders" Obama told reporters at a closing press conference in South Korea. "Here's the right interpretation: I want to make sure that taxes don't go up for middle class families starting on January 1. That's my number one priority for those families and for our economy."
When the news got out of a possible deal, liberals immediately expressed frustration and anger at the notion of the White House compromising on this issue.
The latest on the tax cuts is only the beginning of what is expected to be a contentious session on Capitol Hill come January when 63 House freshman Republican members are sworn into service.
Experts say Axelrod may have made a mistake by showing his hand too soon to Republicans. "My own take is that Axelrod let go of a negotiating position that the administration wanted to hold over Boehner and the G.O.P," Joe Trippi, former campaign manager to Howard Dean told Fox News. "But it is possible that what was really going on here was just sort of let it open up, put this idea out there in the progressive community, let them know that the administration was going to support temporary tax cuts again."
Regardless of any trial balloon Axelrod may have been floating, the president made clear he does not support any compromise saying it would be "fiscally irresponsible" to extend the high income tax cuts. "My number one priority is that we make the middle class tax cuts permanent," Obama said. The president said he is hopeful of finding a solution somewhere between what Republicans want and what the White House wants, but he refused to "negotiate from Seoul."
But even if Obama doesn't want to negotiate from Seoul, current House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the likely next House speaker, wasn't afraid to say something.
"I've only said this about 500 times. I'm going to say it one more time. I think expanding all of the current tax rates and making them permanent will reduce the uncertainty in America and help small businesses begin to create jobs again."
Joe Trippi is a Fox News contributor.
James Rosen contributed to this report.