President Barack Obama reached out to chief executives and middle-income taxpayers, imploring them to press Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff as he said he wants to get a deal “done before Christmas.”
Obama invoked his victory in the Nov. 6 election, saying “a clear majority of Americans” support his approach to taxes, spending and cutting the deficit.
“The American people are watching what we do,” Obama said at an event aimed at promoting his plan. “When the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens.”
The president and Congress are negotiating on a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, $607 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to begin Jan. 1. The Congressional Budget Office has said that failure to reach an agreement may push the economy into a recession next year and boost the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with 7.9 percent now.
“If we get this wrong, the economy’s going to go south,” the president said in an appearance on the White House grounds with a group of people who responded to a White House e-mail solicitation to describe how a tax increase would affect them.
U.S. stocks rose as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner talked about the possibility of a deal before the end of the year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.4 percent to 1,404.36 at 12:43 p.m. in New York, after erasing a decline of as much as 1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 71.27 points, or 0.6 percent, to 12,949.40.
“I’m optimistic that we can continue to work together to avert this crisis, and sooner rather than later,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters in Washington before meeting with the executives.
Obama is mounting a campaign-style push to break Republican resistance to his proposal, which would let Bush-era tax cuts expire for wealthy households earning more than $250,000 a year and preserve tax breaks for families earning less than $250,000.
The White House also announced today that Obama plans a private lunch Thursday with his election opponent Mitt Romney.
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