Obama to exit Hawaii in hopes of fis­cal deal

Congress re­turns Thurs­day with wide gulf be­tween sides.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeremy Peters

Pres­i­dent Barack obama planned to cut his christ­mas va­ca­tion short and re­turn to Washington to make a last-ditch push for a ‘fis­cal cliff’ com­pro­mise with congress.

Blind and alone in tem­per­a­tures that dipped 40 de­grees be­low zero, a lost 8-year-old Fair­banks dog wasn’t given much of a chance to make it home. But af­ter walking 10 miles to the edge of a lo­cal musher’s dog yard, Abby the brown-and­white mixed breed was found and re­turned to her own­ers. The dog that the fam­ily raised from an an­i­mal-shel­ter puppy went miss­ing dur­ing a snow­storm on Dec. 13, and the fam­ily never ex­pected to see her again. “It’s a mir­a­cle, there’s no other words to de­scribe it,” said McKen­zie Grapengeter. KAILUA, HAWAII — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was plan­ning to cut his Christ­mas va­ca­tion short and re­turn to Washington to make a last-ditch push for a com­pro­mise on a tax and spend­ing dis­pute with Congress that re­mains stub­bornly un­re­solved.

A White House of­fi­cial said Tues­day that the pres­i­dent could de­part as early as Wed­nes­day.

Mean­while, both cham­bers of Congress will re­turn to work Thurs­day. While there are grow­ing signs that some mem­bers of both par­ties are pre­pared to ac­cept a deal that raises taxes on peo­ple at the high­est in­come lev­els, there is con­sid­er­able dis­tance be­tween Repub­li­cans and Democrats and no guar­an­tee that an agree­ment could pass.

The pres­i­dent and Congress left Washington late last week af­ter House Repub­li­cans re­jected a plan that would have left tax rates in place for all but those with in­comes more than $1 mil­lion.

Obama has since called for a less am­bi­tious ap­proach to avoid the so-called fis­cal cliff Jan. 1, when a se­ries of au­to­matic bud­get cuts and tax in­creases will go into ef­fect if Congress and the White House can­not come up with an alternative course of ac­tion.

The White House has been seek­ing a res­o­lu­tion through talks with Se­nate Democrats, who con­trol the cham­ber and have gained the tacit sup­port of some of their Repub­li­can col­leagues.

But the Se­nate Repub­li­can leader, Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky, has given no in­di­ca­tion that his mem­bers would not seek to block a deal that in­cludes tax in­creases.

The main ob­sta­cle re­mains the Repub­li­can­led House, where a bloc of con­ser­va­tives has ruled out any tax in­creases what­so­ever.

Over the past four days, Obama has had a placid and un­event­ful va­ca­tion of golf­ing, hik­ing and ex­er­cis­ing on a mil­i­tary base here on the is­land of Oahu, where he was raised and usu­ally spends the hol­i­days.

He had a quiet Christ­mas Day with his fam­ily. He spent most of the morn­ing and early af­ter­noon at the beach house he is rent­ing on the is­land, ex­cept for an hour and a half at the gym.

It was likely to be Obama’s last day of soli­tude for a while. With a fis­cal deal still out of reach, the pres­i­dent can ill af­ford the pub­lic re­la­tions prob­lems that would arise from be­ing on va­ca­tion while the coun­try heads un­cer­tainly to­ward a dead­line that could have a se­ri­ous im­pact on the fi­nan­cial mar­kets and the econ­omy.

Af­ter spend­ing a quiet Christ­mas Day with his fam­ily, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama plans to re­turn to Washington.

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