Obama Talks Fiscal Cliff

President Obama just held his first press conference on the fiscal cliff since gaining re-election last week. Here are some of the highlights of what he said:

-“(A deal) could get done by next week.”

While optimistic, this is a comment that may assuage some investors for a few days. President Obama was adamant that he wants a deal to get done as soon as possible so that “we (do) not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy.” He also doesn’t want a deal looming over the holiday shopping season – which starts nine days from now with Black Friday.

-On the urgency of reaching a fiscal cliff compromise soon: “If Congress fails to act by the end of the year, then everybody’s taxes will go up – including the 98% of Americans who don’t make $250,000 a year, plus 97% of small businesses.”

-On why he won’t cave to extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy this time like he did two years ago: “Two years ago, the economy was in a different situation. We were still in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. That was a one-time proposition.

“We cannot afford to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. What we can do is make sure that middle class taxes don’t go up. If we right away say 98% of Americans are not going to see their taxes go up, and 97% of small businesses – if we get that in place, we remove half of the fiscal cliff.”

 -On the alleged mandate he received from voters to end the Bush-era tax cuts: “The majority of voters agreed with me. More voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me. Can we all step back and say – here’s something we can agree on: ‘We don’t want middle class taxes to go up.’”

The Obama Budget Act – a.k.a. the “fiscal cliff” – is scheduled to go into effect on January 1 unless Congress can reach a compromise.

Sounds like the president hopes the two sides can hammer out a deal much sooner than that.

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