Sen. Menendez: Obama has ‘clear mandate’ for deficit deal

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Menendez said Congress should move on extending tax cuts for the middle class, while letting them expire for families earning $250,000 or more, which the president has proposed.

“I think the president has a very clear mandate,” Menendez said.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said the large majority Republicans retained in the House shows a sizable portion of the electorate, though, agrees with the GOP’s approach.

Republicans have called for extending the George W. Bush-era tax rates, set to expire in January, across the board.

King said Republicans “feel strongly tax rates should not be increased.” He added that he thought House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has put out “enough on the table” to raise revenues through ending deductions and closing tax loopholes.

“If there’s any mandate, it’s to reach an agreement,” King said.

The president and top lawmakers will meet this week to discuss how to address the expiring tax rates and automartic spending cuts set to take effect in 2013. Economists warn that the combination could spark a new recession. 

Obama on Friday pushed Congress to reduce the deficit in “a balanced and responsible way,” and said he was “encouraged” to hear Boehner say that additional tax revenue would be a part of a deficit-cutting deal. But neither Boehner nor Obama have offered details on what higher taxes would be part of the deal.