Obama: US can't afford across-the-board tax hike
President Barack Obama says he will not agree to any budget deal that extends current tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers and says their rates should rise to help raise revenue.
The president spoke to reporters at a news conference for the first time since his re-election last week.
Obama says his stand was validated by voters in the election because he specifically ran on an agenda of letting the existing rates for the top 2 percent of income earner rise to Clinton-era levels.
Congressional Republicans have said they would be willing to include new tax revenue in a deficit reduction deal. But they have been adamant that the tax rates themselves must not increase.
Obama said there were two paths: if Congress fails to act, "everybody's taxes will go up...Nobody in either party says they want it to happen." He said the other option was to pass a law right now essentially to prevent taxes from going up.
"We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy," he said.
Obama says he's withholding judgment on the timing of the revelations that his CIA director was under investigation for a possible national security violation.
The House Intelligence Committee was holding hearings on that very point Wednesday.
The president said that he doesn't have all the information about the probe involving former Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as head of the CIA last week after disclosing an affair.
Officials have said that Obama was not told about the investigation until after the election. He says he has "a lot of confidence generally" in the FBI, which is conducting the inquiry.
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