President Barack Obama on Friday reaffirmed that he would not agree to a budget deal that doesn’t include higher taxes on the “wealthiest individuals.”
Republicans and Democrats, the president said, can agree to a “balanced proposal that cuts spending, but also asks the wealthiest Americans to pay more."
“During the course of these negotiations,” he continued, “I offered to compromise with Republicans in Congress. I met them halfway on taxes, and I met them more than half way on spending. terms of actual dollar amounts, we’re not that far apart.”
The president warned that if Congress fails to agree on a budget deal, the financial ramifications will be felt by everyone.
“[E]ven though Democrats and Republicans are arguing about whether ... rates should go up for the wealthiest individuals, all of us, every single one of us, agrees that tax rates shouldn’t go up for the other 98 percent of Americans, which includes 97 percent of small businesses,” he said.
“Every member of Congress believes that, every Democrat, every Republican. So there is absolutely no reason -- none -- not to protect these Americans from a tax hike," he added. "At the very least, let’s agree right now on what we already agree on. Let’s get that done."
The president continued, urging Republicans and Democrats to come up with a plan they can both agree on.
"Averting this middle class tax hike is not a Democratic or Republican responsibility. With their votes, the American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility between both parties," he said.
"In this Congress, laws can only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. And that means nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. Everybody gotta give a little bit in a sensible way. We move forward together, or we do not move forward and all," he added.
The president asked that members of both parties use their Christmas vacation to reflect on the problems facing the nation (and to enjoy some eggnog and carols)
"I hope it gives everybody some perspective. Everybody can cool off," he said. "Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing -- sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones."
The president challenged Congress one last time to come up with a plan:
We’re going to have to find some common ground. And the challenge that we’ve got right now is that the American people are a lot more sensible and a lot more thoughtful, and much more willing to compromise and give and sacrifice and act responsibly than their elected representatives are.
And that’s a problem. There’s a mismatch right now between how everybody else is thinking about these problems, Democrats and Republicans, outside of this town and how folks are operating here. And we’ve just got to get that aligned, and we’ve only got 10 days to do it.
So I hope that every member of Congress is thinking about that. Nobody can get 100 percent of what they want. And this is not simply a contest between parties in terms of who looks good and who doesn’t.
“So call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done,” the president concluded.
President Obama and his family will leave tonight for their Christmas vacation in Hawaii. U.S. lawmakers have 10 days to come up with a plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
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