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US president Barack Obama has given a measured welcome to the news that Congress has averted a fall off the so-called “fiscal cliff”.

Politicians in the House of Representatives put aside their political differences to dramatically approve a compromise deal by 257 votes to 167, hoping to head off the hard-core programme of tax rises and spending cuts that kicked in on Tuesday.

Obama told reporters at the White House that the agreement is necessary, but not sufficient:

“I am very open to compromise. I agree with Democrats and Republicans that the ageing population and the rising cost of healthcare makes Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit. I believe we have to find way to reform that programme without hurting seniors who count on it to survive, and I believe that there is further and necessary spending in government that we can eliminate. But we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity, cutting spending has to go hand-in-hand with further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals cannot take advantage of loopholes and deductions that are unavailable to most Americans.”

The fiscal cliff was a self-imposed attempt by US lawmakers to cap spending and increase saving dating back to 2011.

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