Obama: Only two paths available on 'fiscal cliff'

During his weekly address on Saturday, President Obama warned Republicans that there are only two possible outcomes for negotiations over the looming "fiscal cliff."

He said that either they agree to allow tax breaks to expire for the top two percent of American earners, or taxes will go up for everyone.

"When it comes to taxes, for example, there are two pathways available," Obama said.

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"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 $250,000 a year. Our economy can’t afford that right now. You can’t afford that right now. And nobody wants that to happen," he warned.

Obama said the other path is for Congress to agree to his plan to extend the tax breaks for the first $250,000 of everyone's income.

"That means all Americans – including the wealthiest Americans – get a tax cut. And 98% of Americans, and 97% of all small business owners, won’t see their income taxes go up a single dime," he said.

He noted that congressional Democrats back his plan, but that he still needs the support of House Republicans.


"We shouldn’t hold the middle class hostage while Congress debates tax cuts for the wealthy," Obama 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."


Republicans argue that increasing taxes on top earners will hurt small businesses and hamper the economy. They are pushing for an immediate extension of all the tax cuts.

Obama said his meeting at the White House on Friday with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other congressional leaders was "constructive" but that differences remain.

"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.