BARACK OBAMA has accused Republicans of being the "Ebenezer Scrooges" of Washington who would ruin Christmas for US families by allowing their income taxes to rise by $2,000 (€1,542) in the new year.
After shocking them with a bold opening gambit in talks to stop the US falling off the "fiscal cliff", the US president attacked Republican leaders for blocking a deal to freeze taxes on 98pc of Americans.
"If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1," he told a crowd at a toy factory in Pennsylvania. "I'm assuming that doesn't sound too good to you. That's the lump of coal Christmas – the Scrooge Christmas."
Mr Obama and opposition leaders are trying to thrash out a plan to replace across-the-board tax hikes and $600bn in spending cuts scheduled to start on January 1 – the "fiscal cliff" that economists say could throw the US back into recession.
While the president is willing to sign a short-term deal to stop taxes rising for all households earning up to $250,000, Republicans refuse to support this because it would raise tax rates for the two per cent of Americans earning more.
"It's not acceptable to me – and I don't think it's acceptable to you – for a handful of Republicans in Congress to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage, simply because they don't want tax raises on upper-income folks," Mr Obama told supporters last night. (© Daily Telegraph, London)