Obama says failure to reach fiscal deal would hurt markets

Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:47am EST
 

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Financial markets would be affected adversely if U.S. lawmakers fail to agree on a "fiscal cliff" deal before Tuesday, President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Sunday, while urging Congress to act quickly to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans.

Lawmakers are seeking a last-minute deal that would set aside $600 billion in tax increases and across-the-board government spending cuts that are set to start within days. If Congress does not make that happen, the first bill brought up in the new year would be to reduce taxes for middle-income families, Obama told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Now I think that over the next 48 hours, my hope is that people recognize that, regardless of partisan differences, our top priority has to be to make sure that taxes on middle-class families do not go up. That would hurt our economy badly," Obama said in the interview taped on Saturday.

"We can get that done. Democrats and Republicans both say they don't want taxes to go up on middle-class families. That's something we all agree on. If we can get that done, that takes a big bite out of the 'fiscal cliff.' It avoids the worst outcomes," Obama added.

Low income tax rates first put in place under Republican former President George W. Bush are due to expire at the end of the day on Monday - the last day of 2012.

Obama said that failing to reach a deal would have a negative impact on financial markets.

"If people start seeing that on January 1st this problem still hasn't been solved, that we haven't seen the kind of deficit reduction that we could have had had the Republicans been willing to take the deal that I gave them ... then obviously that's going to have an adverse reaction in the markets," he said.

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President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House in Washington November 28, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque