Obama hopes for deal by Christmas

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Washington - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he hopes he can reach agreement with the US Congress before Christmas to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff” and shrink the budget deficit, and urged supporters to pressure lawmakers via Twitter and other social media.

“Our ultimate goal is an agreement that gets our long-term deficit under control in a way that is fair and balanced,” he said at the White House.

“I believe that both parties can agree on a framework that does that in the coming weeks. In fact, my hope is to get this done before Christmas,” Obama said.

The president has launched an aggressive public relations campaign to support his goal of extending Bush-era tax cuts for all but the wealthiest Americans. On Wednesday, he called on his backers to pressure Congress both by traditional means and through social media.

“Tweet using the hashtag #My2K, or email, you know, post it on a member of Congress's Facebook wall,” he said. “Do what it takes to communicate a sense of urgency. We don't have a lot of time here.”

The president said followers could send a Tweet with the hashtag #My2K detailing how a $2 000 tax increase would limit their spending.

The White House has used Twitter campaigns in the past to get the public to pressure Congress to lower student loan interest rates (#dontdoublemyrate) and on extending the payroll tax cut (#40dollars).

Obama pledged to do his part to lobby for his tax proposal.

“I'll go anywhere and I'll do whatever it takes to get this done,” he said. “It's too important for Washington to screw this up.”

The United States faces a combination of government spending cuts and tax rises due to be implemented under existing law in early 2013 that may cut the federal budget deficit but also tip the economy back into recession. - Reuters

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