Washington – Working with Congress against a midnight deadline, President Barack Obama said Monday that a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” was in sight but not yet finalized. The emerging deal would raise tax rates on family income over $450,000 a year, increase the estate tax rate and extend unemployment benefits for one year.
“There are still issues left to resolve but we’re hopeful Congress can get it done,” Obama said at a campaign-style event at the White House. “But it’s not done.”
The parties were at an impasse over whether to put off the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect at the beginning of the year and if so, how to pay for that.
One official said talks were focused on a two-month delay in the across-the-board cuts but negotiators had yet to agree on about $24 billion in savings from elsewhere in the budget.
Officials emphasized that negotiations were continuing and the emerging deal was not yet final. And a confident Obama, flanked by cheering middle class Americans in a White House auditorium, jabbed Congress, saying lawmakers would use every last second to delay a deal. He said his hopes for a larger, more sweeping deal have been dashed and said that such an accommodation was not possible “with this Congress at this time.”