Obama warns leaders in Congress to quickly extend tax cuts

President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaWatch live: Obama gives first public speech since leaving office Trump order could undo designation of national monuments: report Trump will ramp up action on executive orders this week: reports MORE on Saturday urged congressional leaders to quickly extend tax cuts and spending programs, warning that without such steps the economy could "slide backwards."

In a three-page letter to Democratic and Republican leaders, Obama said the economy is at a "critical juncture" in recovering from the worst of the financial crisis and recession.

"While our efforts over the past 18 months have helped break the freefall and restore growth, it is essential that we continue to explore additional measures to spur job creation and build momentum toward recovery, even as we establish a path to long-term fiscal discipline," Obama wrote in the letter.


The president earlier on Saturday criticized Senate Republicans for stalling legislation that would prevent cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. Legislation that would prevent the cuts is part of a broader package of tax and spending provisions that is slated for Senate consideration next week. Republicans say they are concerned the Democratic package would add to the deficit and debt.

Obama said the legislation, and additional efforts, would help small businesses and state and local governments in particular.

"While state and local governments have already taken difficult steps to balance their budgets, if additional action is not taken hundreds of thousands of additional jobs could be lost," Obama said in the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCompromise is the key to moving forward after Trump's first 100 days Juan Williams: Trump's 100 days wound GOP Judd Gregg: Trump gets his sea legs MORE (R-Ky.).

"At this critical moment, we cannot afford to slide backwards just as our recovery is taking hold. We must take these emergency measures," Obama said.

"But even in the face of public outrage, Democrats are showing either that they just don't get it on this issue of the debt, or that they just don't care," McConnell said. "Right now, among other challenges, we have a debt crisis, a jobs crisis, a housing crisis, a financial crisis, and an oil spill that the American people clearly don't believe government is effectively responding to. So you can understand the American people's skepticism when they're told that simply adding more government is the solution to government's previous failures."

This story was updated at 10 p.m.