WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama visited a family’s home near Washington on Thursday as part of his campaign to persuade Congress to pass his economic plan.
Obama paid a visit to Tiffany and Richard Santana, who responded to his call asking Americans to use social media to express support for his fiscal plan.
Americans will face substantial tax increases and government budget cuts on January 1, if Congress does not pass and the president does not sign legislation to reduce the nation’s debt.
What is the U.S. Fiscal Cliff?
An agreement intended to force politicians to compromise and make deals.
Without a deal by January 1, 2013, sharp spending cuts would hit military and social programs.
Tax hikes also would go into effect.
The combination would reduce economic activity, and could boost unemployment and push the nation back into recession.
Obama said failure to enact fiscal legislation would cost a typical American family, such as the Santanas, $2,000 a year in higher taxes.
“An increase of $2,000 or so for her and her husband, in this household, would actually mean $4,000 that was lost. And a couple of thousand dollars means a couple months rent," he said.
The president said higher taxes for families across the country would cause a ripple effect throughout the U.S. economy.
“That translates into $200 billion of less consumer spending next year. And that is bad for businesses, large and small. It is bad for our economy. It means less folks are being hired. And we could be back in a downward spiral instead of the kind of virtuous cycle that we want to see," he said.
Watch a related report by VOA's Greg Flakus
On Wednesday, the president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, discussed the issue in a telephone call.
Democrats and Republicans agree that more revenue must be raised to help reduce the national debt, which stands at more than $16 trillion. But Republicans oppose the president’s proposal to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans to close the gap.
Obama has been making his case to the public, hoping that Americans will pressure Republicans in Congress to accept the president's plan.
“I am encouraged to see that there has been some discussion on the part of Republicans, acknowledging the need for additional revenue. As I have indicated, the only way to get the kind of revenue for a balanced deficit reduction plan is to make sure that we are also modestly increasing rates for people who can afford it," he said.
The president recently has discussed the issue with state governors, corporate executives and the general public. But he has held only one meeting with top lawmakers on the fiscal situation, last month.