Obama calls on Congress to salvage a fiscal cliff deal

Barack Obama

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,"

Obama said.

"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," he said.

Referring to the deadline which expires in 10 days, Obama said in 10 days, under current law, tax rates are scheduled to rise on most Americans.

"Even though Democrats and Republicans are arguing about whether those rates should go up for the wealthiest individuals, all of agrees that tax rates shouldn't go up for the other 98 percent of Americans, which includes 97 percent of small businesses," he said.

In the next few days, Obama said, he has asked leaders of Congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on middle-class Americans, protects unemployment insurance for two 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," he said.

"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," he added. Obama is scheduled to leave for Hawaii, his Christmas and New Year vacation, along with his family.

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