‘Cautiously optimistic’ – that is the phrase being used at the White House after the president held talks with Congressional leaders in an 11th hour effort to reach a budget deal.
Time is running out to agree on an acceptable package before across-the-board tax rises and spending cuts take effect which could tip the US economy into recession.
“I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class and I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time,” President Obama told reporters during a news conference on Friday.
But if agreement is not forthcoming to avoid the end-of-year fiscal cliff deadline, Barack Obama has threatened to put a ‘barebones’ plan to a vote.
That would involve two measures – preventing tax rises on incomes up to 250,000 dollars and extending unemployment benefits which expire over the weekend.
The plan would safeguard the most vulnerable against the worst effects of draconian fiscal measures while forming the groundwork for further negotiations in the new year.