President Obama Makes a Statement on the Fiscal Cliff


  Good afternoon, everybody. Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with leaders of both parties on a proposal to get our deficit under control, avoid tax cuts — or avoid tax hikes on the middle class, and to make sure that we can spur jobs and economic growth — a balanced proposal that cuts spending but also asks the wealthiest Americans to pay more; a proposal that will strengthen the middle class over the long haul and grow our economy over the long haul.


  During the course of these negotiations, I offered to compromise with Republicans in Congress. I met them halfway on taxes, and I met them more than halfway on spending. And in terms of actual dollar amounts, we’re not that far apart.


  As of today, I am still ready and willing to get a comprehensive package done. I still believe that reducing our deficit is the right thing to do for the long-term health of our economy and the confidence of our businesses. I remain committed to working towards that goal, whether it happens all at once or whether it happens in several different steps.


  But in 10 days, we face a deadline. In 10 days, under current law, tax rates are scheduled to rise on most Americans. And even though Democrats and Republicans are arguing about whether those 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. 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. At the very least, let’s agree right now on what we already agree on. Let’s get that done.


  I just spoke to Speaker Boehner and I also met with Senator Reid. In the next few days, I’ve asked leaders of Congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on middle-class Americans, protects unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans, and lays the groundwork for further work on both growth and deficit reduction. That’s an achievable goal. That can get done in 10 days.


  Once this legislation is agreed to, I expect Democrats and Republicans to get back to Washington and have it pass both chambers. And I will immediately sign that legislation into law, before January 1st of next year. It’s that simple.


  Averting this middle-class tax hike is not a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility. With their votes, the American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility between both parties. 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 has got to give a little bit, in a sensible way. We move forward together, or we don’t move forward at all.



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