Fis­cal Cliff: Obama calls for avoid­ing mid­dle class tax hike

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - BOOKS - — Reuters — AFP

Washington: US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Satur­day urged Congress to pro­tect the mid­dle class from an in­come tax in­crease and lay the ground­work for fu­ture eco­nomic growth as Se­nate lead­ers be­gin work to avoid a so­called “fis­cal cliff.”

“We’ve got to do what it takes to pro­tect the mid­dle class, grow this econ­omy, and move our coun­try for­ward,” Obama said in his weekly ra­dio and in­ter­net ad­dress.

“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,” he added.

The com­ments came af­ter Obama met with top con­gres­sional lead­ers Fri­day and said that Se­nate Democrats and Repub­li­cans would work over­time this week­end to try to head off a $ 500 bil­lion time bomb of tax hikes and spend­ing cuts called the “fis­cal cliff” be­fore a Jan­uary 1 dead­line.

The pres­i­dent, sens­ing a man­date from his re- elec­tion last month, wants to raise taxes on the rich but ex­empt the mid­dle class. Repub­li­cans want only to close tax loop­holes to raise rev­enue and de­mand sig­nif­i­cant spend­ing cuts in re­turn.

But if noth­ing is done by the dead­line, ev­ery­one will get a tax hike.

Fol­low­ing the White House talks, Demo­cratic Se­nate ma­jor­ity leader Harry Reid and Repub­li­can mi­nor­ity leader Mitch McCon­nell will now take the lead in seek­ing a deal be­fore Tues­day.

But any agree­ment would also have to pass the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where there is doubt that any deal signed off by the Demo­cratic pres­i­dent would win fa­vor with restive con­ser­va­tives in the Repub­li­can cau­cus.

But Obama warned that if an agree­ment was not reached in time, he would then ask the Se­nate to hold US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in Washington on Satur­day Pres­i­dent Barack Obama en­acted a law Fri­day to counter Iran’s al­leged in­flu­ence in Latin Amer­ica, through a new diplo­matic and po­lit­i­cal strat­egy to be de­signed by the State De­part­ment. The Coun­ter­ing Iran in the West­ern Hemi­sphere Act, passed by law­mak­ers ear­lier this year, calls for the State De­part­ment to de­velop a strat­egy within 180 days to “ad­dress Iran’s grow­ing hos­tile pres­ence and ac­tiv­ity” in the re­gion. Although the strat­egy is con­fi­den­tial and only ac­ces­si­ble to law­mak­ers, it must con­tain a pub­lic sum­mary. 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, as he put it, “lays the ground­work for fu­ture progress on more eco­nomic growth and deficit re­duc­tion.” He did not elab­o­rate. “I be­lieve such a pro­posal could pass both houses with bi­par­ti­san ma­jori­ties - as long as th­ese lead­ers al­low it to come to a vote,” the pres­i­dent 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.”

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