President Obama Says Deal ‘Within Sight’; Deficit Solution to Come Later

BY Cassie M. Chew  December 31, 2012 at 2:55 PM EST



Despite President Obama’s earlier optimistic message that a deal had been reached, Congress won’t vote on a bill before midnight New Year’s Eve, to avert the so called fiscal cliff.

According to news reports, negotiations are stuck on how to avoid about $109 billion in defense and domestic program cuts set to take place on Jan. 2.

Speaking to a friendly crowd at the White House this afternoon, the president announced that lawmakers were close to making a deal that would prevent tax increases for most of Americans.

“It appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year’s tax hike is within sight, but it is not done,” Obama said. “There are still issues to be resolved, but we are hopeful that Congress can get it done. But it’s not done.”

Obama says the plan involves raising taxes on high-income earners. Rather than a “grand bargain,” that would feature a mix of spending reductions and revenue increases toward aggressively cutting the nation’s $16 trillion debt over the next decade, Obama told the audience of supporters that efforts to reduce the nation’s debt would come in stages.

“My preference would have been to solve all these problems in the context of a larger agreement…that solves our deficit problems in a balanced and responsible way…so that we can put all of this behind us and just focus on growing our economy,” he said. “But with this Congress that was obviously a little too much to hope for at this time….We’re going to solve this problem instead in several steps.”

On tonight’s NewsHour Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff will dissect the day’s negotiations and discuss the latest developments with Todd Zwillich, Washington correspondent for PRI’s The Takeaway.