In his weekly address on Saturday, President Barack Obama said it is time for Congress to approve an extension of middle-class tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans.
A majority in Congress should listen to the voters "by making sure taxes do not go up on the 98 percent of Americans making under 250,000 dollars a year starting January First," Obama said. "This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now.
"It is a step that would give millions of families and 97 percent of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There is no reason to wait," he said The election results on Tuesday indicated voters "said loud and clear that you will no tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word -- not when so many of your families are still struggling," the President said. "Instead, you want cooperation. You want action. That is what I plan to deliver in my second term, and I expect to find leaders from both parties willing to join me." Obama noted that he has invited leaders of both political parties to the White House next week -- including business, labor and civic leaders from outside Washington -- "so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together." "At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth," he said.
"That is the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign. It is a plan to reward businesses that create jobs here in America, and give people access to the education and training that those businesses are looking for. "It is a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and keep us on the cutting edge of innovation and clean energy. And it is a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way," he went on.
At the end of this year, U.S. government leaders face a series of deadlines "that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit -- decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future," he noted. "If we are serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue, and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes," Obama said, adding "That is how we did it when Bill Clinton was President. And that is the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing - all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy." Members of the opposition Republican Party in Congress have been adamantly opposed to allowing any tax increases, including on the wealthiest Americans, and it remains to be seen whether they will bend on this issue in the wake of Obama's re-election.
"Already, I have put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by 4 trillion dollars over the next decade," the President said. "Now, I am open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that is not balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over 250,000 dollars are not asked to pay a dime more in taxes. This was a central question in the election. And on Tuesday, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach -- that includes Democrats, Independents and Republicans.