Transcript for President Makes Statement on Fiscal Cliff
A central promise of my campaign for president was to change the tax code that was too skewed towards the wealthy. At the expense of working middle class Americans. Tonight we've done that. Thanks to the votes of Democrats and Republicans in congress. I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans while. Preventing a middle class tax like that could have sent to the economy back in -- recession obviously had severe impact on families all across America. I want to thank all the leaders of the house and senate. In particular I want to thank. The work that was done by my extraordinary vice president Joseph Biden. As well as. Leader Harry Reid. Speaker Boehner Nancy Pelosi. And Mitch McConnell everybody worked very hard on this and I appreciate it and you know once again I want to thank you for your great work. Under this law more than 98% Americans and 97% of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up. Millions of families will continue to receive tax credits to help raise their kids and send them -- college. Companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research -- they do the investments they -- and the clean energy jobs that they create. In two million Americans were out of work but. Out -- looking down on the pavement every day we're gonna continue to receive unemployment benefits as long as there. Actively looking for job. But I think we all recognize. This law is just one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy and brought an opportunity for everybody. The fact is the deficit is still to -- And we're still investing too little in the things that we need for the economy to grow as fast as it -- And that's why speaker Boehner and I originally try to negotiate a larger agreement. There -- put this country on a path to paying down its debt. While also putting Americans back to work rebuilding -- roads and bridges and providing investments in areas like education and job training. Unfortunately. There just wasn't enough support or time for that kind of larger agreement in lame duck session of congress. And that failure comes with a cost. As the messy nature of the process over the past several weeks has made business more uncertain. And consumers less confident. But we are continuing to chip away at this -- step by step. Last year I signed in law one point seven trillion dollars in deficit reduction. Tonight's agreement further reduces the deficit by raising 620 billion dollars in revenue from the wealthiest households in America. And there will be more deficit reduction as congress decides what to do about the automatic spending cuts that we have now delayed for two months. I want to make this point as -- demonstrated throughout the past several weeks. I am very open accomplice. I agree with. Democrats and Republicans that the aging population and rising cost of health care makes Medicare the biggest contributor toward deficit. I believe we've got to find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors who count on -- to survive. And I believe that there is further unnecessary spending and government that we can eliminate. But we can't simply cut our way to prosperity. Cutting spending has to go hand in hand with further reforms for a tax code so that -- corporations and individuals can't take advantage of loopholes and deductions that -- available to most Americans. And we can't keep cutting things like basically search and new technology. And still expect to succeed in -- for century economy. So. We're gonna have to continue to move forward in deficit reduction. But we have to do and a balanced way making sure that we are growing even as we get a handle. On our spending. Now. One last point one make -- -- negotiate over many things. I will not have another debate what this congress over whether or not they should pay the bills. That -- they've already racked up through the walls that they passed. And they repeat. We can't not pay bills that we've already -- If congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills on time. The consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic. Far worse than the impact of -- fiscal Clinton. People remember back in 2011 last time this course of action was threatened. On -- -- recovery. Was put at risk consumer confidence plunged business investment plunged. Growth dropped. We can't go down that path -- Today's agreement and shrines I think principle in the -- the -- remain in place as long as I'm president. The deficit needs to be reduced in a way that's balance. Everyone pays their fair share. Everyone does their part that's our economy works best that's how we grow. The sum total of all the budget agreements we've reached so far proves that there is a path forward that it is possible. If we focus not on our politics but what's but on what's right for the country and the one thing that I think hopefully in the new year will focus on -- seeing if we can. Put -- Packers like this together with a little bit less drama. A little less brinksmanship. Not scare the heck out of folks quite as much. We can come together as Democrats and Republicans. To cut spending and raise revenue -- that reduce our deficit. Protects our middle class provides latter's into the middle class for everybody -- won't work or. We can find a way to afford the investments that we need to grow and compete. We can settle this debate. Or the very least not allow it to. Be sold all consuming all the time. That it stops us from meeting a host of other challenges that we face creating jobs boosting incomes. Fixing our infrastructure. Fixing our immigration system. Protecting our planet from harmful effects of climate change. Boosting. Domestic energy production. Protecting our kids from the horrors of gun violence. It's not just possible to do these things it's an obligation to ourselves. And future generations and I look -- working with. Every single member of congress. To meet this obligation. In the new year and I hope that everybody that gets at least. -- like this few days off. So that people -- -- themselves because we're gonna have a lot of work to do imported thirteen.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.