Obama cuts holiday to help avert 'fiscal cliff'

 

Honolulu

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Arts and Entertainment
music

News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

English Teacher

£100 - £160 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: Temporar...

KS1 Supply Teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting fo...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album