President Obama Urges Compromise on Guns, Fiscal Cliff

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[Editor's Note: late Thursday night, Speaker Boehner cancelled the expected vote on Plan B when it became apparent that not enough House Republicans agreed with his proposal to deal with the fiscal cliff. So, Congress is officially on break for the holidays, although President Obama plans to stay in Washington for the time being. --Grace]

All the President wants for Christmas is some compromise. With less than a week before the holiday, President Obama held a press conference this morning, with a somber and desperate plea, which I can only sum up as: Please, for the sake of humanity! Can’t we all just get along?

Even before last Friday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Republicans and Democrats were locked in a battle of the wills surrounding the “fiscal cliff” budget talks. And now, with after the killings of 26 school kids and teachers, there is the added urgency of gun control reform – another contentious issue which will require bipartisan cooperation.

WASHINGTON D.C., Dec. 19, 2012 U.S. President Barack Obama (R), with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, speaks to the media at the White House briefing room in Washington D.C. on Dec. 19, 2012. Obama on Wednesday announced a gun control task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. The inter-agency task force is charged with guiding the administration's continuing response to calls of gun control after the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe) (Credit Image: © Fang Zhe/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com)

This morning, Obama appointed Vice-President Joe Biden to head up a gun control efforts right after the new year. The Biden-led task force is expected to come up with concrete proposals, calling the Sandy Hook shootings a “wake up call” and pointing out that the majority of Americans support measures such as banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips (such as the ones used to fire hundreds of rounds at the first grade classrooms), and background checks before gun sales. But he acknowledged, time and time again, that it’s going to take more than just the efforts of Democrats to make real change in the country, pointing out hat in the wake of the senseless deaths of six and seven-year-olds to say, isn’t it clear that something needs to be done?

The images of the young victims have already created a palpable shift in the way the American public views gun rights, with even the NRA blacking out their Twitter and Facebook accounts for days, and announcing a press conference for Friday. Even former Second Amendment advocates, such as Rep. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican pundit Joe Scarborough, have publicly stated that things need to change.

The president ping-ponged back and forth between the gun control and the budget talks during the press conference, with the theme that he and the Democrats have been doing their part to come to work together, and that the Republicans must now do their part.

"Any objective person ... would say we've put forward a very balanced plan," the president told reporters on Wednesday. He added, "Right now what the country needs is for us to compromise."

I can feel his frustration, after a week during which Speaker of the House John Boehner has been threatening to hold the holidays hostage, if the Democrats don’t give in to all the demands put forth in his Plan B presented late Monday (i.e. drastic cutbacks on social services and no tax hikes, except for the wealthiest Americans making over $1 Million each year). The president has conceded by extending the Bush-era tax breaks to those making over $400,000, instead of his original plan of capping those tax rates at household incomes of $250,000.

What do you think? Will Americans come together after the Connecticut shootings and reach a deal on the “fiscal cliff” by Friday?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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