U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama (Credit: Getty Images)
President Obama on Monday warned Republicans against rejecting his offer for a limited extension of tax breaks, saying it would likely ruin Christmas for retailers and consumers.
In an open letter to Republicans, Obama told his opponents to "stop holding the middle class and our economy hostage over a disagreement on tax cuts," Fox News reports. The warning came on "Cyber Monday," one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.
Fox News has more details:
The president has promised he will immediately sign an extension of the lower Bush-era tax rates, but only for American families bringing in less than $250,000 annually. Republicans want to preserve the lower rates for all Americans, including the 2 percent of households that earn more than $250,000.
Obama starts the two-page letter by appealing to all of Congress to accept his offer, but he notes near the end that “congressional Democrats” already are on board with the deal.
“Stop holding the middle class and our economy hostage over a disagreement on tax cuts,” the letter states, as Congress returns to Washington this week to try to reach a deal that would avert the $500 billion mix of tax increases and budget cuts set to take effect in early January.
But some Republicans are sick and tired of Obama's campaign-style rhetoric.
"The election is over," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "It's time for the president to present a plan that…goes beyond the talking points of the campaign trail."
The National Retail Federation also voiced its concerns with Obama's letter on Monday.
“It is encouraging to see the administration’s acknowledgment that retailers and their customers will be among the hardest hit if our elected officials fail to address ongoing economic uncertainty,” spokesman Stephen Schatz said. "However...cherry-picking reforms only serves to reinforce the well-placed fears of American consumers and retailers that the status quo will once again rule the day."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says Obama talked with House Majority Leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about tax negotiations.
Fox News reports that Republican leaders will meet with corporate leaders for insight on Wednesday.
Additionally, White House economists also warned Monday that the uncertainty of a potential hike in taxes next year for middle class taxpayers under the looming fiscal cliff could hurt consumer confidence during the crucial holiday shopping season.
In a new report that coincides with Congress' return after the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House says that if lawmakers don't halt the automatic increase in taxes for households earning less than $250,000, consumers might even curtail their shopping during the current holiday season.
"As we approach the holiday season, which accounts for close to one-fifth of industry sales, retailers can't afford the threat of tax increases on middle-class families," the report by President Barack Obama's National Economic Council and his Council of Economic Advisers says.
The report comes as official Washington dives back into negotiations on how to avoid tax hikes and deep spending cuts scheduled to begin taking effect Jan.
Exit question: Should the GOP compromise and accept the limited extension of tax breaks or is this a scare tactic from the White House?
Featured image via Getty
The Associated Press contributed to this report.