After just four days of vacation, the U.S. president is leaving Hawaii earlier than planned to return to Washington in a last-ditch effort to address the unfinished “fiscal cliff” negotiations with Congress.
President Obama is scheduled to depart for Washington late Wednesday, the White House announced today. The first lady and daughters, Malia and Sasha, will continue enjoying their vacation.
Last week Obama said that he is a “hopeless optimist” as he still believes a highly expected deal can be reached before broad tax increases and steep spending cuts kick in on Jan. 1, which may damage the American economy, reminds The Washington Post.
On Wednesday, President Obama threatened to veto the Republican measure, the so-called “Plan B,” which would raise taxes on households making more than $1 million, if Congress approved it.
White House communication director Dan Pfeiffer described the Republican back-up plan as unbalanced.
“The congressional Republican ‘plan B’ legislation continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals – on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 – while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on.”
Pfeiffer continued: “This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the president would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage.”
Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck replied: “The White House’s opposition to a back-up plan to ensure taxes don’t rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day.”
With the deadline set for last week, lawmakers have been also warned to be back in Washington on Thursday. Obama’s return was expected. He told reporters at the White House Friday that he would “see you next week.”
Last week, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said a deal would have to be reached by Christmas to allow time for the legislative process to approve the required measure or measures by the end of the year.
The first family were spending Christmas holydays at a rented home near Honolulu. Barack and Michelle Obama visited members of the military to express thanks for their service.
“One of my favorite things is always coming to base on Christmas Day just to meet you and say thank you,” the president said at Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s Anderson Hall, adding that being commander in chief was his greatest honor as president.
“Obviously, we’re still in a wartime footing. There are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day. Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there. Some of you may be about to be deployed there. And so we know that it’s not easy,” the president told the service members.
“But what we also want you to know is that you have the entire country behind you, and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide.”
On Christmas Eve, the U.S. president called members of the military to thank them for serving the nation, then joined his family for dinner, the White House officials report.