(WASHINGTON) — President Obama took his “fiscal cliff” campaign to the living room of a Northern Virginia family Thursday, where he urged lawmakers to extend middle class tax cuts and warned that failure to do so would harm the nation’s economy.
Putting a human face to the consequences of inaction, the president visited the home of Tiffany and Richard Santana, a high school English teacher and a Toyota employee, to showcase how families would be negatively impacted if they had to pay $2,200 more in taxes next year.
“They’re keeping it together. They’re working hard. They’re meeting their responsibilities,” Obama explained of the family that submitted their story to the administration’s #My2K social media campaign. “You know, for them to be burdened unnecessarily because Democrats and Republicans aren’t coming together to solve this problem gives you a sense of the costs involved in very personal terms.”
Sitting around the dining room table, the president told reporters that every day Congress fails to act means more uncertainty for middle class families and more potential harm for the economy.
“We’re in the midst of the Christmas season. I think the American people are counting on this getting solved. The closer it gets to the brink, the more stressed they’re going to be,” he said.
“And if they don’t have confidence that we can get this thing done, then they’re going to start pulling back, and we could have a rocky time in our economy over the next several months or even next year,” he continued.
The White House is demanding that tax increases for the wealthiest Americans must be part of any deficit-reduction deal to avoid the impending spending cuts and tax increases set to kick in on Jan. 1, while Republicans argue tax rates should not go up for anyone because it will slow the economy.
Despite the ongoing standoff, the president was optimistic that a deal can be reached.
“I’m encouraged to see that there’s been some discussion on the part of Republicans acknowledging the need for additional revenue,” he said. “As I’ve indicated, the only way to get the kind of revenue for a balanced deficit reduction plan is to make sure that we’re also modestly increasing rates for people who can afford it, folks like me.”
“I’m not going to sign any package that somehow prevents the top rate from going up for folks at the top two percent. But I do remain optimistic that we can get something done that is good for families like this ones and that is good for the American economy,” he added.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Theodore Schleifer, CNN