Washington: Hours before the midnight deadline which could plunge the country into a deep economic crisis, US President Barack Obama on Monday announced that a deal on "fiscal cliff" is within sight but it is not done yet.
    
"Now it appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year's tax hike is within sight. But it's not done. There are still issues left to resolve, but we're hopeful that Congress can get it done. But it's not done," Obama told at a White House event.
    
Obama said for the last few days, leaders in both parties have been working toward an agreement that will prevent a middle-class tax hike from hitting 98 percent of all Americans starting from Tuesday.
    
"Preventing that tax hike has been my top priority, because the last thing folks like the folks up here on this stage can afford right now is to pay an extra USD 2,000 in taxes next year. Middle-class families can't afford it. Businesses can't afford it. Our economy can't afford it," he said.
    
Obama said the potential agreement that's being talked about would not only make sure the taxes don't go up on middle-class families, it also would extend tax credits for families with children.
    
"It would extend our tuition tax credit that's helped millions of families pay for college. It would extend tax credits for clean energy companies that are creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. It would extend unemployment insurance to 2 million Americans who are out there still actively looking for a job," he said.
    
Obama said the country still has more work to do.
    
"We still have deficits that have to be dealt with. We're still going to have to think about how we put our economy on a long-term trajectory of growth, how we continue to make investments in things like education, things like infrastructure that help our economy grow," he said.
    
"Keep in mind that the threat of tax hikes going up is only one part of this so-called fiscal cliff that everybody is talking about. What we also have facing us, starting on Tuesday, are automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect," he said.
    
"And keep in mind that some of these spending cuts that Congress has said will automatically go into effect have an impact on our Defense Department, but they also have an impact on things like Head Start. And so there are some programs scheduled to be cut that we're using an ax instead of a scalpel. May not always be the smartest cuts. And so that is a piece of business that still has to be taken care of," Obama said.

(Agencies)

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