Washington: A day after his "constructive" meeting with Congressional leaders on finding ways to reduce deficit and strengthen economy, US President Barack Obama on Saturday asked the Congress to act now and extend the middle class tax benefits.
In his weekly address, Obama said Congress should act now on one thing that everyone agrees on -- ensuring that taxes do not go up on 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of small businesses at the end of the year.
"On Friday I sat down with Congressional leaders to discuss how we can reduce our deficit in a way that strengthens our economy and protects our middle class. It was a constructive meeting. And everyone agreed that while we may have our differences, we need to come together, find solutions and take action as soon as possible," he said.
Obama said four years after the worst economic crisis; the American economy is growing again and creating jobs.
"But we have much more to do. Our task now is to build on that progress. Because this nation only succeeds when we've got a growing, thriving middle class," he said. "That's what drives me. That's what I campaigned on for the past year. That's what will guide me in our work over the next four years. And I'm willing to work with anyone of any party to move this country forward," he said.
"Because soon, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs and taxes; on investments and deficits. Both parties voted to set this deadline. I believe both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way."
When it comes to taxes, for example, there are two pathways available, Obama said. "One says, if Congress fails to act by the end of the year, then everybody's taxes automatically go up – including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than USD 250,000 a year. Our economy can't afford that right now... And nobody wants that to happen."
"The other path is for Congress to pass a law right away to prevent a tax hike on the first USD 250,000 of anyone's income. That means all Americans – including the wealthiest Americans – get a tax cut. And 98 percent of Americans, and 97 percent of all small business owners, won't see their income taxes go up a single dime," he said.
The Senate has already passed a bill like this, he noted. "Democrats in the House are ready to pass one, too. All we need is for Republicans in the House to come on board. We shouldn't hold the middle class hostage while Congress debates tax cuts for the wealthy," he said.
"Let's begin our work by actually doing what we all agree on. Let's keep taxes low for the middle class. And let's get it done soon – so we can give families and businesses some good news going into the holiday season," he said, adding that these challenges will not be easy to solve. "But we can do it if we work together."