WASHINGTON – Even as both parties signaled they were making progress on a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama on Saturday renewed his call on the House of Representatives to act in the short term to extend lower tax rates for the bottom tier of wage earners, saying it would boost Americans’ confidence ahead of the holidays.
In his weekly video address, Obama called his first post-election sit-down with congressional leaders “constructive” and said there was agreement on the need to act as soon as possible to forestall automatic tax increases and budget cuts that are set to go into effect at year’s end.
But as they work out details on a broader compromise on spending and revenues, Obama said, the House “shouldn’t hold the middle class hostage” and should vote swiftly to send him legislation that would preserve lower rates on the first $250,000 of Americans’ income.
“That means all Americans – including the wealthiest Americans – get a tax cut. And 98 percent of Americans, and 97 percent of all small-business owners, won’t see their income taxes go up a single dime,” he said.
Leaders from both parties and both chambers of Congress emerged from Friday’s White House meeting signaling that the framework of a deal was coming into view.
Talks will be on hold, however, for at least a week. Obama departed early Saturday for a four-day trip to Southeast Asia, with stops in Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. He is set to return to Washington on Wednesday.