Posted at: 11/14/2012 12:56 PM
Updated at: 11/14/2012 1:02 PM
By: KEN THOMAS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the economy cannot afford a tax increase on all Americans and is calling on congressional Republicans to support an extension of existing tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less.
Obama says he is confident that he and Congress can reach an agreement that avoids a so-called "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, when all tax rates would revert to Clinton-era levels and a series of deep spending cuts kick in.
Obama addressed the fiscal cliff at the opening of a press conference Wednesday in the White House.
In saying that the economy can't afford plunging into tax increases at the start of the year, the president distanced himself from some in his party who would prefer the tax increases and spending to occur to gain leverage.
Obama says he will not agree to any budget deal that extends current tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers and says their rates should rise to help raise revenue.
The president says his stand was validated by voters in the election because he specifically ran on an agenda of letting the existing rates for the top 2 percent of income earner rise to Clinton-era levels.
Congressional Republicans have said they would be willing to include new tax revenue in a deficit reduction deal. But they have been adamant that the tax rates themselves must not increase.
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