'Fiscal Cliff' Disputes Remain as Deadline Nears
The legislation leaves untouched a scheduled 2 percentage point increase in the payroll tax, ending a temporary reduction enacted two years ago to help revive the economy.
Officials said the White House had succeeded in gaining a one-year extension of long-term unemployment benefits about to expire on an estimated two million jobless.
The legislation would delay for one year a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients.
Also included is a provision to prevent a threatened spike in milk prices after the first of the year.Even as time was running out, partisan agendas were evident. Obama used his appearance not only to chastise Congress, but also to lay down a marker for the next round of negotiations early in 2013, when Republicans intend to seek spending cuts in exchange for letting the Treasury to borrow above the current debt limit of $16.4 trillion. "Now, if Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone â¿¿ and you hear that sometimes coming from them ... then they've got another think coming. ... That's not how it's going to work at least as long as I'm president," he said. "And I'm going to be president for the next four years, I think," he added. Obama's remarks irritated some Republicans. Sen. John McCain of Arizona they would "clearly antagonize members of the House." ___ Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram and Ben Feller contributed to this report.
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