Obama cuts holiday to help avert 'fiscal cliff'
After just four days of vacation, President Barack Obama will leave Hawaii on Wednesday evening to return to Washington in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
Over the holiday, Obama's staff has been quietly working with Senate Democrats to come up with a plan to prevent the cliff — an automatic series of deep spending cuts and sharp tax increases on nearly all Americans — from taking effect in the new year.
After arriving in his native state early Saturday, the president has remained largely out of sight, golfing and spending time with his family. He left Washington late Friday, expressing hope that cooler heads would prevail after a month and a half of largely fruitless negotiations with congressional Republicans.
Little progress has been achieved over the past four days, and Obama will return to a capital city apparently as paralyzed as it was when he left. Senior Republican aides in both chambers said on Tuesday that their offices have not had contact with the White House over the holiday.
On Friday, before he left, Obama proposed a stopgap measure that would freeze tax rates for Americans earning less than $250,000 a year and extend unemployment benefits, which expire at the end of the month for 2 million Americans. The president has insisted that tax cuts for people earning more than $250,000 expire on schedule next week.
A senior GOP aide laughed off the proposal Tuesday, saying that extending unemployment insurance would drive up the deficit. Other Republicans, however, have shown more willingness to accept the president's plan, knowing that taxes will automatically rise without action by Congress.
Lawmakers are scheduled to return to business Thursday, but no specific talks are set. While some sort of stopgap measure appears most likely if the fiscal cliff is to be prevented, Obama is still holding out hope for a broader agreement to tame the national debt.
The stopgap measure he proposed could also address the alternative minimum tax — which, if left unpatched, would bring millions of Americans much bigger 2012 tax bills — as well as looming cuts in domestic and defense spending and reductions in Medicare payments to doctors.
Many lawmakers were pessimistic last week that any deal could make it through the House after Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had to pull a vote on his "Plan B" measure to raise taxes on millionaires because not enough Republicans backed it.
First lady Michelle Obama and the couple's daughters, Sasha and Malia, will stay in Hawaii. It is not clear if Obama would consider returning to continue his vacation.
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...