Schumer: Confident Deal Will Be Made With 'Sword Hanging Over' Congress

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Political leaders on both sides of the aisle in Washington continue to sound the alarm about the impending ‘fiscal cliff’ set to hit on Jan. 1 – when the Bush-era tax cuts expire and automatic spending cuts would take effect.

Both sides have proposed ways to head off the potential economic crisis caused by the fiscal cliff but have been unable to reach consensus.

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WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

President Obama has said he would veto any extension of tax cuts for the top two percent wealthiest Americans, while Republicans have said now is not the time to raise taxes on anyone.

A Thursday morning report said Obama was prepared to block any legislation to prevent going over the fiscal cliff unless it included his call for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

At a news conference Thursday, Sen. Charles Schumer applauded the move.

“We have never had conditions like this where the taxes will go up on everybody unless we act. That makes it imperative to act where there are deep cuts to many institutions here in New York and elsewhere if we don’t act,” Schumer told reporters including WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “And he’s trying to force the Congress to come to that realization. Many have not, so I think what he did will actually help bring about a grand bargain to avoid the fiscal cliff.”

MORE: CBS News Reports On The Fiscal Cliff

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Schumer also said he’s optimistic about the President’s reportedly hardened stance on the issue, saying “the fact that we’re winning on this issue is a sea change.”

Later Thursday, the White House said the President’s stance has not changed and has always included a veto threat for any measure not including a tax increase on the top wage earners.

As the clock ticks closer to the end of the year, Sen. Schumer said he’s confident a deal will be reached.

“You need to find cuts, particularly in wasteful programs, but you also have to find revenues. And there are only two choices, two places to find revenues – from middle class people or from the very wealthy. What the President is saying, it should come from the very wealthy,” said Schumer. “The Congress for the first time has a real sword hanging over its head and it makes me optimistic that if each side gives some, we can actually come to a deal.”

President Obama’s proposal would call for higher taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year. Republicans have said spending cuts coupled with an extension of the tax cuts for all Americans is the right way forward.

Economists have warned if the fiscal cliff is reached, it could send the country back into recession.

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