The adults make a last-ditch effort on the fiscal cliff

Reuters: Obama said he was “modestly optimistic” that an agreement could be found that would prevent taxes going up for almost all working Americans.

If things cannot be worked out in the Senate, Obama said he wanted both chambers in Congress to vote on a plan of his that would increase taxes only for households earning more than $250,000 a year.

The plan would also extend unemployment insurance for about 2 million Americans and set up a framework for a larger deficit reduction deal next year.

“The hour for immediate action is here. It is now. We’re now at the point where in just four days, every American’s tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. Every American’s paycheck will get considerably smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do,” Obama told reporters.

He was speaking after an hour-long meeting in the White House with the two Senate leaders plus their counterparts in the House, Republican Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

A total of $600 billion in tax hikes and cuts to government spending will start kicking in on Tuesday if politicians cannot reach a deal, which could push the U.S. economy into a recession.

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The President’s Weekly Address: Congress must protect the Middle Class from income tax hike –


In part:

“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.

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.

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 on 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.” …

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