Obama ready for deal to avoid fiscal cliff
US: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday offered opposition
Republicans a short-term compromise on avoiding the fiscal cliff, but
said any deal needed to include tax increases for the rich.
Obama said he was willing to negotiate a fix before year-end to avoid
the harsh tax hikes and spending cuts programmed for January 1, and then
seek a comprehensive deal on long-term deficit reduction next year.
“We face a clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions
on jobs, taxes and deficits by the end of the year... As I’ve said
before, I’m open to compromise and I’m open to new ideas,” Obama said at
his first press conference after being re-elected on November 6.
“Let’s go ahead and lock that in. That will be good for the economy.
It will be good for consumers. It will be good for businesses. It takes
the edge off the fiscal cliff.” He said it was crucial to reach
agreement within weeks on extending existing tax breaks for 98 percent
of American households whose incomes are below $250,000 a year, to
avoiding forcing a steep consumer spending crunch from January 1.
But he said that similar tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans
should expire, a point which many Republicans have rejected.
“We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts
for the wealthy,” he said.