Obama urges congressional leaders for 'one final attempt' on fiscal talks
US President Barack Obama has urged congressional leaders to take one last shot at crafting a bill that can prevent tax hikes on middle-class Americans, as he and virtually everyone involved prepared to bolt Washington for the holidays.
The president, while optimistically claiming he would be back "next week" to handle a budget deal, boarded Air Force One with his family Friday evening for a holiday vacation in Hawaii.
House Speaker John Boehner, who until several days ago was Obama's negotiating partner, also headed home to Ohio. It remained unclear whether they really would return next week to strike a deal, Fox News reports.
According to the report, time is running short before sweeping tax hikes kick in Jan. 1, followed by aggressive automatic spending cuts, and the two left in their wake a cacophony of recriminations over stalled efforts to avert the looming fiscal crisis and growing doubts about the prospects for compromise.
After a Republican package collapsed in the House the night before, the president said he remained optimistic, the report said.
"I actually still think we can get it done," Obama said, after meeting briefly with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and speaking separately with Boehner.
Obama specifically called on Congress to pass a bill that extends current tax rates for middle-class Americans, which he typically defines as those making under 250,000 dollars. He said such a package should also extend long-term unemployment aid and lay "the groundwork for further work on both growth and deficit reduction," the report added.
"That's an achievable goal. That can get done in 10 days," he said, adding he would "immediately" sign it into law before Jan. 1. "It's that simple."