WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the economy cannot afford a tax increase on all Americans. He's calling on congressional Republicans to support an extension of existing tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less.
Obama says he is confident that he and Congress can reach an agreement that avoids a so-called "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, when all tax rates would revert to Clinton-era levels and a series of deep spending cuts kick in.
Obama addressed the fiscal cliff at the opening of a press conference Wednesday in the White House.
Obama says he will not agree to any budget deal that extends current tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers, saying their rates should rise to help raise revenue. He says his stand was validated by voters in the election.
Congressional Republicans have said they would be willing to include new tax revenue in a deficit reduction deal. But they have been adamant that the tax rates themselves must not increase.
House Speaker John Boehner said there has been a spirit of cooperation between congressional Republicans and the White House. He said he is optimistic about talks beginning Friday between the White House and congressional leaders about averting the fiscal cliff - tax increases and spending cuts occurring automatically in January unless lawmakers reach a compromise to avert them.