Obama:Fiscal cliff deal in sight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Working with Congress against a midnight deadline, President Barack Obama said today that a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” was in sight but not yet finalized.
The emerging deal would raise tax rates on family income over $450 000 and individual income over $400 000 a year, increase the estate tax rate and extend unemployment benefits for one year.
“There are still issues left to resolve but we’re hopeful Congress can get it done,” Obama said at a campaign-style event at the White House. “But it’s not done.”
In the building New Year’s Eve drama, the parties still were at an impasse over whether to put off the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect at the beginning of the year and if so, how to pay for that.
One official said talks were focused on a two-month delay in the across-the-board cuts but negotiators had yet to agree on about $24 billion in savings from elsewhere in the budget. Democrats had asked for the cuts to be put off for one year and be offset by unspecified revenue.
The president said that whatever last-minute fixes are necessary, they must come from a blend of tax revenue and constrained spending, not just budget cuts.
And a little more than an hour after Obama spoke, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it was time to decouple the two major issues.
“We’ll continue to work on smarter ways to cut spending, but let’s not let that hold up protecting Americans from a tax hike that will take place in about ten hours,” he said.
Officials emphasized that negotiations were continuing and the emerging deal was not yet final. And a confident Obama, flanked by cheering middle class Americans in a White House auditorium, jabbed Congress, saying lawmakers were prone to last-minute delays.