November 12th, 2010
06:14 AM ET

Lothian's question to the president

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) - CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian was the second reporter to get called on by President Obama during Friday's press conference in Seoul, South Korea.  Lothian asked the president if he was open to a compromise with Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts, and whether he thinks the midterm election has weakened him on the national stage.

Here is the transcript of the exchange.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Thank you. After the midterm elections you said that you were open to compromise on the Bush tax cuts. I’m wondering if you’re prepared today to say that you’re willing to accept a temporary extension for the wealthiest Americans? And then on an unrelated question, do you feel that the election has weakened you on the global stage?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The answer to the second question is no. I think what we’ve seen over the last several days as we’ve traveled through Asia is that people are eager to work with America, eager to engage with America on economic issues, on security issues, on a whole range of mutual interests. And that’s especially true in Asia, where we see such enormous potential. This is the fastest-growing part of the world. And we’ve got to be here and we’ve got to work. And I’m absolutely confident that my administration over the next two years is going to continue to make progress in ensuring that the United States has a presence here not just for the next couple of years but for decades to come.

With respect to the Bush tax cuts, what I’ve said is that I’m going to meet with both the Republican and Democratic leaders late next week and we’re going to sit down and discuss how we move forward. My number-one priority is making sure that we make the middle-class tax cuts permanent, that we give certainty to the 98 percent of Americans who are affected by those tax breaks. I don’t want to see their income taxes spike up - not only because they need relief after having gone through a horrendous recession, but also because it would be bad for the economy.

I continue to believe that extending permanently the upper-income tax cuts would be a mistake and that we can’t afford it. And my hope is, is that somewhere in between there we can find some sort of solution. But I’m not going to negotiate here in Seoul. My job is to negotiate back in Washington with Republican and Democratic leaders.

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