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December 8, 2012

Obama: Republicans blocking middle-class tax cuts

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Saturday that Republicans in the House are blocking a bill that would prevent a tax increase on the first $250,000 of income earned by all Americans.

The Democratic-controlled Senate has approved the measure, but Obama said House Republicans have "put forward an unbalanced plan that actually lowers rates for the wealthiest Americans." Obama supports a plan to raise taxes on families earning more than $250,000.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said "the math just doesn't work" on the GOP plan.

Obama's comments mark the fourth time since his re-election that he has used the radio address to push for middle-class tax cuts as part of a plan to avert a looming fiscal cliff — and his most sharply partisan tone.

Obama said his plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans should come as no surprise to Republicans or anyone else.

"After all, this was a central question in the election. A clear majority of Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — agreed with a balanced approach that asks something from everyone, but a little more from those who can most afford it," Obama said.

His plan is "the only way to put our economy on a sustainable path without asking even more from the middle class," Obama said. It also is the only plan he is willing to sign, the president said.

Obama's comments came as House Speaker John Boehner said Friday there has been no progress in negotiations to avert the "fiscal cliff," a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January.

Boehner said the White House has wasted another week and has failed to respond to a GOP offer to raise tax revenues and cut spending. Obama and Boehner spoke privately by phone on Wednesday. Boehner described the conversation as pleasant, "but just more of the same."

Obama said in his address that he stands ready to work with Republicans on a plan that spurs economic growth, creates jobs and reduces the national deficit. He said he wants to find ways to bring down health care costs without hurting seniors and is willing to make more cuts in entitlement programs such as Medicare.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in the Republican response Saturday that tax increases will not solve the nation's $16 trillion debt. Only economic growth and reform of entitlement programs will help control the debt, Rubio said.

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