Wealthiest must pay more taxes, says Obama

  • U.S. President Obama has repeated his call for high earners to pay higher taxes in his first press conference since being re-elected to the White House.

    On Wednesday, Obama urged for quick legislation to rule out tax rises on the first $250,000 of income but refused to extend cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent.

    "We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy," Obama said.

    The U.S. is currently in the midst of a "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax rises.

    Republicans and Democrats have six weeks to reach a deal before $600 billion worth of automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in at the start of next year, which could lead the U.S. economy into recession.

    The automatic cuts are set to take place because Congress failed to reach a deal on deficit reduction after a deadlock over the U.S. debt ceiling in mid-2011.

    Since last week’s U.S. elections, Republicans have said they are open to raising revenue through tax reform and closure of loopholes but are opposed to tax rises on the wealthy.

    During his news conference, Obama dismissed the loophole-only reform, telling reporters that "the math tends not to work" in cutting the deficit.

    Obama has been against extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for those earning above $250,000 a year. However, he gave into Republican demands in 2010 when the cuts were last up for renewal.