Former U.S. President Bill Clinton expressed regret for comments that seemed to hint he would be open to extending the so-called Bush tax cuts.
"I'm very sorry about what happened," Clinton said Thursday on CNN. "I thought something had to be done on the 'fiscal cliff' before the election. Apparently nothing has to be done until the first of the year."
Republicans jumped on Clinton's remarks earlier this week after he said lawmakers likely would delay action on a number of major spending and budget decisions, arguing that he essentially sided with Republicans who are calling for the extension of the controversial tax cuts enacted while George W. Bush was president.
President Barack Obama wants to allow tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest taxpayers to expire.
"[Congress] will probably have to put everything off until early next year," Clinton said Tuesday on CNBC. "That's probably the best thing to do right now."
The "fiscal cliff" is a term for series of measures, scheduled to be effective in January, that would remove more than $500 billion out of the economy in 2013 alone, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and protection of the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax, a $1 trillion cut in spending and a reduction in Medicare doctors' pay.
Clinton said on CNN he supports Obama's position that calls for an end to the tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more. He said he erred about the timing of the "fiscal cliff," explaining he thought it would occur before the elections instead of the beginning of next year.
"I really was under the impression that they would have to do something before the election, and I was trying to figure out how they would kick it to last [through] the election," he said. "Once I realized that nothing had to be done until the first of the year, I supported [Obama's] position. I supported extending them last year, but I think his position is the right one and necessary for working out a comprehensive [deficit reduction] deal."