NEW YORK (
) -- President Barack Obama reminded reporters on Wednesday that he wasn't joking around the past year on the campaign trail.
"There is a [budget] package to be shaped, and I'm confident that parties ... can make that happen. But what I'm not going to do is extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% that we can't afford, and according to economists will have the least impact on our economy," Obama said in a press conference.
Arguably the biggest question that has loomed over major U.S. markets has been what deal, if any, Congress will be able to reach concerning meaningful budget reform.
With a little more than six weeks left in 2012, investors are anxious for any clues about how negotiations between the president, House Republicans, Senate Democrats will go to avoid the fiscal cliff, which refers to the tax relief measures and spending cuts that will automatically go into effect at the beginning of 2013.
"It's easier to say that we've got two sides at the table that have historically shown no desire to cooperate with one another, why would we expect a change of behavior now? I don't know," Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors,
said in an interview.
The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group for the U.S. Congress, has projected that the United States will fall into a recession if legislators allowed all changes to tax and spending policies scheduled to take effect in January 2013 to go through.
When one reporter asked if the president would cave to Republican demands as he did a couple years ago, Obama said things are different now.
"Two years ago the economy was in a different situation; we were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crises since the Great Depression," said Obama. "And ultimately we came together not only to pass the Bush tax cuts but a wide range of policies that were going to be good for the economy at that point."
Obama and Democrats have adamantly opposed tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans have reiterated a commitment to renew all tax cuts put in place during the George W. Bush administration.