WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama, accused by Republican House Speaker John Boehner of pushing the country toward the "fiscal cliff," said on Saturday he was ready to work with congressional Republicans on a comprehensive plan to cut budget deficits as long it included higher taxes on the wealthy.
Obama is battling Republican lawmakers over how to avoid the combination of sharp tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in early next year that could plunge the economy back into recession.
In his weekly radio address, the president renewed his call for Republicans to extend middle-class tax cuts while letting tax rates go up for the wealthy. He also said he would be willing to find ways to bring down healthcare costs and make additional cuts to government social safety-net programs.
"We can and should do more than just extend middle-class tax cuts," he said. "I stand ready to work with Republicans on a plan that spurs economic growth, creates jobs and reduces our deficit - a plan that gives both sides some of what they want."
Republicans have balked at tax rate increases, which they say would hurt small businesses and brake economic growth.