President Obama today called on Congress to reach a deal that would raise taxes without including wide ranging spending cuts, saying Republicans must pass what they agree with Democrats on – protecting the middle class from having its tax rates increase.
“There is absolutely no reason – none – not to protect (middle class) Americans from a tax hike,” Obama said during a hastily called appearance in the White House briefing room. “At the very least, let’s agree now on what we already agree on.”
Obama said lawmakers should relax for now, but return to Washington immediately once a deal is struck.
“Everybody can cool off – everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols,” Obama said.
However, reaching a deal that raises taxes on the wealthy would harm the economy, in the view of Republicans, and eliminate the leverage Republicans have to force large cuts in entitlement spending.
Obama’s move suggests he is upping the ante and will press the House to agree to legislation that raises taxes on those who make more than $250,000 per year, even though Republicans Thursday balked at a bill that would set the threshold at $1 million. Obama seems to be strategizing that he can either pick off some Republican lawmakers for the Democratic plan or have the country blame House Republicans if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff.
Obama said extensions of unemployment benefits should be part of the package.