Obama: Extend middle-class tax cuts and unemployment benefits by Jan. 1

December 21, 2012

President Obama said in a Friday evening appearance that he is calling on Congress to extend tax cuts for people earning under $250,000 and unemployment benefits before the end of the year, and has asked congressional leaders to come up with a plan to be voted on next week.

“Nobody gets 100 percent of what they want,” Obama said, acknowledging that it is no longer possible to achieve a big deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" and restrain the debt in the next 10 days. “This is not simply a contest of parties between who looks good and who doesn't.”

Obama said he hoped the time off for the holiday would give lawmakers cooler heads.   "Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing Christmas carols," he said. 

He did not immediately say when he would be going to Hawaii to celebrate the holidays with his family.

“I offered to compromise with Republicans in Congress I met them halfway on taxes and I met them more than halfway on spending,” he said. “I am still ready and willing to get a comprehensive package done.”

Obama said he was also hoping that congressional leaders would come up with a plan to achieve a larger amount of deficit reduction next year.

Zachary A. Goldfarb is a staff writer covering the White House, focusing on President Obama’s economic, financial and fiscal policy.
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Jerry Markon | December 21, 2012