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December 29, 2012

Days before deadline, Obama urges Congress to act on 'fiscal cliff'

President Obama urged Congress Saturday to approve "balanced" legislation that would prevent taxes from rising on the middle class and lay ä foundation for the economy to grow and reduce the deficit.  

"It’s a balanced plan – one that would protect the middle class, cut spending in a responsible way, and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more," he said in his weekly radio address. "And I’ll keep working with anybody who’s serious about getting a comprehensive plan like this done – because it’s the right thing to do for our economic growth.''

Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate are spending the weekend working to find a possible solution a series of tax increases and spending cuts in time for votes Sunday night by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. If they fail, Obama will ask Congress to vote on his original proposal to raise taxes on individual income above $200,000 and family income above $250,000, and also to extend jobless benefits for 2 million unemployed workers.

 

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities – as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote,'' he said. If they still want to vote no, and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote.  That’s the way this is supposed to work."

Failure to reach a deadline by the end of the year would mean that $500 billion in tax increases take effect early next year, coupled with $109 billion in spending reductions, the first installment toward $1.2 trillion in cuts over two years. Compounding the problem, Congress learned this week that the government will reach the $16.4 trillion debt limit Monday.

"We’re now at the point where, in just a couple days, the law says that every American’s tax rates are going up,'' he said. "Every American’s paycheck will get a lot smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy. It would hurt middle-class families, and it would hurt the businesses that depend on your spending."

Read the full address below:

Hello Everybody. For the past couple months, I’ve been working with people in both parties – with the help of business leaders and ordinary Americans – to come together around a plan to grow the economy and shrink our deficits. 

It’s a balanced plan – one that would protect the middle class, cut spending in a responsible way, and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more.  And I’ll keep working with anybody who’s serious about getting a comprehensive plan like this done – because it’s the right thing to do for our economic growth.

But we’re now at the point where, in just a couple days, the law says that every American’s tax rates are going up.  Every American’s paycheck will get a lot smaller.  And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy.  It would hurt middle-class families, and it would hurt the businesses that depend on your spending.

And Congress can prevent it from happening, if they act now.  Leaders in Congress are working on a way to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I believe we may be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time.

But if an agreement isn’t reached in time, then I’ll urge the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on a basic package that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends vital unemployment insurance for Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction.

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities – as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote.  If they still want to vote no, and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote.  That’s the way this is supposed to work.

We just can’t afford a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy.  The economy is growing, but keeping it that way means that the folks you sent to Washington have to do their jobs.  The housing market is healing, but that could stall if folks are seeing smaller paychecks.  The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already, families and businesses are starting to hold back because of the dysfunction they see in Washington.  

You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day.  The folks you sent here to serve should do the same.  We cannot let Washington politics get in the way of America’s progress.  We’ve got to do what it takes to protect the middle class, grow this economy, and move our country forward.

Thanks, everybody.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/12/28/178597/at-fiscal-cliffs-edge-budget-talks.html#storylink=cpy

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