Obama defends tax cuts for the wealthy

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The White House defended a proposed tax deal championed by President Barack Obama, saying an extension of all Bush-era tax cuts over two years would not worsen the US deficit.

"These are responsible, temporary measures to support our economy that will not add costs by the middle of the decade," the White House said in a statement after some Democrats accused Mr Obama of caving in to Republican demands.

Mr Obama announced a compromise deal on Monday to extend all Bush-era tax cuts for two years, giving ground to emboldened Republicans who made big gains in last month's congressional elections.

After meeting Democratic leaders, Mr Obama announced a "framework" agreement with Republicans to renew tax cuts not just for the middle class – as he and fellow Democrats had sought – but also for wealthier Americans, as Republicans wanted. The tentative plan is expected to draw resistance from some liberal Democrats, who have expressed disappointment. Mr Obama may need Republican help to pass the plan if enough Democrats revolt.

"We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems," Mr Obama told reporters. "I am confident ultimately that Congress is going to do the right thing."