WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he believes that members of both parties can reach a "framework" on a debt-cutting deal before Christmas, making his case with a mix of optimism and pressure on congressional Republicans to keep tax rates from rising on the middle class.
Obama, pushing ahead with his campaign to increase revenue by hiking taxes on wealthier Americans, was joined by about a dozen middle-class Americans at a White House event in the midst of negotiation on how to avoid a so-called fiscal cliff at year's end when across-the-board tax hikes and steep spending cuts kick in.
"I am ready and able and willing and excited to go ahead and get this issue resolved in bipartisan fashion so that American families, American businesses have some certainty going into next year," Obama said.
He took special note of reports that some Republicans have expressed a willingness to extend the current expiring tax rates for households earning less than $250,000. Conservative Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole told GOP colleagues in a private meeting on Tuesday that it's better to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of taxpayers than engage in a prolonged fight that risks increasing taxes on everyone. Cole is a longtime GOP loyalist and a confidant of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"I'm glad to see, if you've been reading the papers lately, that more and more Republicans in Congress seem to be agreeing with this idea that we should have a balanced approach," Obama said, noting that the Senate has already passed legislation to extend current rates to those middle class taxpayers.