WASHINGTON President Barack Obama would not sign legislation that extends the current lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, the White House said on Friday.
"The president would veto, as he has said ... any bill that extends the Bush-era tax cuts for the top two percent of wage earners, of earners in this country," White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a briefing.
Obama will hold talks with congressional leaders at the White House next Friday on avoiding the looming steep government spending cuts and tax rises, Carney said. The president will hold a news conference on Wednesday, Carney told reporters.
Obama, in a statement delivered earlier at the White House, said he would launch discussions to try reach a deficit reduction deal that eluded the White House and congressional Republicans in 2011.
The president urged lawmakers to immediately pass an extension of tax cuts on most Americans with the exception of the top earners. The tax cuts are due to expire on December 31.
Republicans have said they would agree to increasing government revenues, but have objected to any increases in tax rates. House Speaker John Boehner said this week that raising tax rates on the top two brackets would cost 700,000 jobs.
"Going over part of the fiscal cliff and raising taxes on job creators is no solution at all," he said on Wednesday.
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Vicki Allen and Jackie Frank)