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Statement by the President on the Fiscal Cliff

This news story was published on December 22, 2012.
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THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with leaders of both parties on a proposal to get our deficit under control, avoid tax cuts — or avoid tax hikes on the middle class, and to make sure that we can spur jobs and economic growth — a balanced proposal that cuts spending but also asks the wealthiest Americans to pay more; a proposal that will strengthen the middle class over the long haul and grow our 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.

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.

But in 10 days, we face a deadline. In 10 days, under current law, tax rates are scheduled to rise on most Americans. And even though Democrats and Republicans are arguing about whether those rates should go up for the wealthiest individuals, all of us — every single one of us — agrees that tax rates shouldn’t go up for the other 98 percent of Americans, which includes 97 percent of small businesses. Every member of Congress believes that. Every Democrat, every Republican. So there is absolutely no reason — none — not to protect these Americans from a tax hike. At the very least, let’s agree right now on what we already agree on. Let’s get that done.

I just spoke to Speaker Boehner and I also met with Senator Reid. In the next few days, I’ve asked leaders of Congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on middle-class Americans, protects unemployment insurance for 2 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.

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.

Averting this middle-class tax hike is not a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility. With their votes, the American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility between both parties. In this Congress, laws can only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. And that means nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. Everybody has got to give a little bit, in a sensible way. We move forward together, or we don’t move forward at all.

So, as we leave town for a few days to be with our families for the holidays, I hope it gives everybody some perspective. Everybody can cool off; everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones. And then I’d ask every member of Congress while they’re back home to think about that. Think about the obligations we have to the people who sent us here. Think about the hardship that so many Americans will endure if Congress does nothing at all.

Just as our economy is really starting to recover and we’re starting to see optimistic signs, and we’ve seen actually some upside statistics from a whole range of areas including housing, now is not the time for more self-inflicted wounds — certainly not those coming from Washington. And there’s so much more work to be done in this country — on jobs and on incomes, education and energy. We’re a week away from one of the worst tragedies in memory, so we’ve got work to do on gun safety, a host of other issues. These are all challenges that we can meet. They’re all challenges that we have to meet if we want our kids to grow up in an America that’s full of opportunity and possibility, as much opportunity and possibility as the America that our parents and our grandparents left for us.

But we’re only going to be able to do it together. We’re going to have to find some common ground. And the challenge that we’ve got right now is that the American people are a lot more sensible and a lot more thoughtful and much more willing to compromise, and give, and sacrifice, and act responsibly than their elected representatives are. And that’s a problem.

There’s a mismatch right now between how everybody else is thinking about these problems– Democrats and Republicans outside of this town — and how folks are operating here. And we’ve just got to get that aligned. But we’ve only got 10 days to do it.

So I hope that every member of Congress is thinking about that. Nobody can get 100 percent of what they want. And this is not simply a contest between parties in terms of who looks good and who doesn’t. There are real-world consequences to what we do here.

And I want next year to be a year of strong economic growth. I want next year to be a year in which more jobs are created, and more businesses are started, and we’re making progress on all the challenges that we have out there — some of which, by the way, we don’t have as much control over as we have in terms of just shaping a sensible budget.

This is something within our capacity to solve. It doesn’t take that much work. We just have to do the right thing. So call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done.

And with that, I want to wish every American a merry Christmas. And because we didn’t get this done, I will see you next week.

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15 Responses to Statement by the President on the Fiscal Cliff

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Hey public servants ! DISMOUNT ! the private sector horses are DEAD !

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 25, 2012 at 11:05 am

    get over it! — it’s just the public sector MILKIN THE PRIVATE SECTOR !

  3. blog Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2012 at 8:37 am

    It always used to be the mid west joke that the bill of a farmers cap was curved so it would fit in the mailbox so he could get his supplement check. That should now be changed to fit the entitlement ( I mean Democrapic party) The only difference is the farmer still has the ambition to walk to the mail box while the Democraps will cry until Obama passes another law to make a working person do it. Merry Christmas.

  4. Dave Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2012 at 8:17 am

    We all are standing on the edge of the cliff with him standing behind us pushing us over the edge. While he is on him 1st vacation already before his 2nd term even begins. He’s going to take advantage of this second term and get as many trips out of us as he can and not take care of any business like the 1st time. Hang on for the ride America and keep you hands covering your backside.

  5. maybe Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    The members of congress are still there, where is he?

    • Jackson Reply Report comment

      December 22, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      He’s taking advantage of the great vacation package we gave him for another four years. We can’t afford to go there but we send them. ….again.

    • Just the facts Reply Report comment

      December 23, 2012 at 5:46 am

      He’s milkin’ the system with “black power” while he can. Can’t stand to see or listen to that tyrant.

      p. s. get your burka ordered before the price increase.

    • happyguy Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Maybe…congress is on vacation until after Christmas. Some may still be in DC but congress is in recess.

  6. Anonymouse Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Do your job you double ______ !

    • bodacious Reply Report comment

      December 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm


    • happyguy Reply Report comment

      December 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      You are referring to the teapublicans in congress aren’t you.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        December 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

        @Happy Guy-I am sorry. I have tried to remain objective, but I just do not believe a word this guy says. he was a proven lier in his first term and is carrying over in the sam manner in his 2nd term. If he really cared about the country he would stay in Washington and work this out. Leaving his job at this time on our dime is totally unacceptable.

      • happyguy Reply Report comment

        December 23, 2012 at 9:32 am

        All of congress has also left. Where is your complaint about that. The first thing that needs to happen is congress has to pass a bill in both houses and then it goes to the president. The teapublicans would even pass a bill raising taxes on only people making over 1 million $ a year. Pres Obama has moved from $250k to $400k plus he is willing to make some cuts in SS. He has moved a lot. Time for the teapublicans to do the same.

      • LVS Reply Report comment

        December 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm

        @Happy Guy-I am not happy about congress going home either. But I will say this. They must have an agreement before taking it to the floor or it will never pass. (Either the house or congress). That takes both sides negotiating and they can not do that when they are not there. You might just as well say we agree to disagree on this issue. I think they have offered a lot in negotiations and he will not move at all. I think from what I hear on CBS that he wants us to go over the cliff. Now you tell me why S.S. is the big negotiating point? The last I heard was it was solvent for the next 20 years or so. It sure seems like reducing the size of government would be something that would make a lot more sense and would save more money and have a immediate effect. Just saying.

      • maybe Reply Report comment

        December 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

        We go over the cliff, taxes go way up, the economy collapses, he declares martial law.