President Obama Urges Congress to Prevent Tax Hikes on Middle Class Americans

President Obama delivers a statement to the press, Dec. 28, 2012.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 28, 2012.

(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

With just four days left before tax rates are scheduled to rise, President Obama met with Senate and House leaders at the White House to talk about how Congress can prevent every American from seeing a smaller paycheck next week.

Speaking in the Brady Press Briefing room after that meeting, the President characterized the discussion as "good and constructive" and said that he is optimistic an agreement that can pass both houses will be reached in time. But he warned Congress that the American people are losing patience, and that they must act now: 

if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction. 

I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote. If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can –- but we should let everybody vote.  That’s the way this is supposed to work. If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill. 

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