Obama wants fiscal cliff deal by Christmas
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for a deal with Republicans before Christmas on averting a tax and deficit crunch that it is feared could pitch the economy into recession.
Mr Obama gathered middle class families at the White House to up his campaign for Republicans to join Democrats in Congress to pass an extension to tax cuts for most Americans, while bowing to his pressure to raise rates on top earners.
"I want to make sure everybody understands this debate is not just about numbers. It's a set of major decisions that are going to affect millions of families all across this country in very significant ways," Mr Obama said. "Our ultimate goal is an agreement that gets our long-term deficit under control in a way that is fair and balanced.
"I believe that both parties can agree on a framework that does that in the coming weeks. In fact, my hope is to get this done before Christmas." If there is no agreement before the end of the year, taxes on all Americans will rise, raising the prospect of a sudden draining of consumer spending and fears that the still fragile economy could be thrown back into recession.