Obama on Fiscal Cliff: "Time To Get Back to Work"

PHOTO: President Barack Obama holds up a pen as he speaks about the economy and the deficit, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

President Obama held a press conference on Friday afternoon to address what many in Washington consider the most pressing issue facing the nation in the remainder of this year: the fiscal cliff.

"It's time to get back to work," Obama said from the East Wing of the White House.

If Congress fails to take action to reduce the deficit, a set of tax increases and spending cuts will automatically go into effect. While Obama and Democrats have advocated a tax cut extension for those making under $250,000 a year, Republicans also advocate a tax cut extension for those making more than that. Obama says he wants the wealthiest Americans to pay "just a little bit more," a plan Republicans have opposed.

"We can't just cut our way to prosperity," Obama said. "If we're serious…we have to combine spending cuts with revenue."

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said during an earlier Friday conference that he is willing to work across the aisle to find a solution.

"This has to be dealt with," Boehner said. "So everything -- everything on the revenue side and on the spending side, has to be looked at."

Obama said he "looks forward to hearing his ideas" when the two meet to discuss the issue.

The president has invited a bipartisan group of leaders, including Boehner, to visit the White House next week to "build a consensus" on how to approach the fiscal cliff. He said that he also plans to solicit opinions from labor leaders and businesses.

"I'm not wedded to every detail of my plan….I'm open to new ideas," he said, but added, "I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced."

Repeating what was a standard part of his campaign stump speech, Obama said he wants to reward people who create jobs in the United States and not overseas in places such as China.

At one point during his remarks, Obama pulled a pen from his suit pocket and said he was ready to sign the tax-cut extension for Americans making less than $250,000 a year. A bill authorizing such tax breaks has passed the Senate but failed to gain enough votes in the House.

Our "top priority has to be jobs and growth," he said.

Americans "won't tolerate politicians who view compromise as a dirty word," Obama said.

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