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Sitting down for his first interview since the election, President Barack Obama remained optimistic about reaching a deal on the fiscal cliff, but not before rejecting House Speaker John Boehner’s “out of balance” proposal.

Obama reiterated the need for a balanced approach, dispelling the notion that he was driven by politics—“It’s not me being stubborn, not me be partisan; it’s just a matter of math,” Obama told Bloomberg News’ Julianna Goldman. The full interview can be viewed here.

The president said he was “prepared to make some tough decisions on this issue,” and allowed that he would not get “100 percent” of his demands, but stated that he would not “agree to a plan in which we have some revenue that is vague and potentially comes out of the pockets of middle-class families in exchange for some very specific and tough entitlement cuts that would affect seniors or other folks who are vulnerable.”

Speaker Boehner’s proposal yesterday called for slashing $600 billion in federal health care programs—driven partly by increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67—$200 billion in savings by modifying how the government calculates inflation estimates for increasing Medicare and Social Security benefits, and extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Obama restated the need for increasing top tax rates, while maintaining current rates for those making less than $250,000. “We’re going to have to see the rates on the top 2 percent go up, and we’re not going to be able to get a deal without it,” he said. The Republican plan proposed generating new revenue by closing special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates. But Obama soon rejected that approach. “If you do not raise enough revenue by closing loopholes and deductions, it’s going to be the middle-class families that make up the difference,” the president said. “And that would be bad for business.”

Photo Credit: Bloomberg News Screenshot

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