* Obama: less revenue would mean more cuts in education
* Says tax breaks that help middle class are important for
By Mark Felsenthal and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON, Dec 3 Taking to Twitter to press his
case in "fiscal cliff" talks with Congress, President Barack
Obama said on Monday that tax breaks benefiting middle class
families such as the mortgage interest deduction could be at
risk if rates for top earners do not rise.
Obama is locked in negotiations with Congress to prevent a
year-end fiscal crunch. If the administration and lawmakers fail
to agree, across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts would go
into effect that analysts say would tip the economy back into
The president answered questions on Twitter for about an
hour on Monday as part of his campaign to pressure Republicans
in Congress to accept an increase in taxes for the wealthiest
Americans as part of a deficit-cutting package.
One questioner, who identified herself as Emma Robertson,
expressed concern that popular tax breaks for homeownership
could be threatened in an eventual deal.
"As a home owner, I worry deductions for home owners are at
risk. Is that the case?" she asked in a tweet.
Obama responded that such tax breaks were important for
middle class families and could be at risk if taxes for the
wealthiest Americans are not increased.
"Breaks for middle class impt for families & econ. if top
rates don't go up, danger that middle class deductions get hit -
bo," the president said via Twitter.
Obama signs his initials - BO - to tweets that he writes
himself. In this tweet, "impt" stands for important and "econ"
stands for economy.
Tax cuts the originated under former President George W.
Bush are due to expire at the end of the year and Obama, who was
re-elected to a second four-year term last month, has pledged to
let the tax rates on the top two brackets rise to their previous
HIGHER RATES VERSUS FEWER DEDUCTIONS
While Republicans have agreed that more revenue can be part
of any deal, they have balked at raising actual tax rates,
saying they prefer to trim the federal deficit by eliminating
tax deductions and loopholes in the tax code.
That distinction is central to a stalemate in the
Asked by one questioner why he was opposed to taking away
deductions from the top 2 percent of U.S. earners rather than
raising their rates, Obama said such a move would not raise
enough revenue unless charitable deductions were scrapped.
"Less revenue = more cuts in education," he tweeted.
He told another questioner that he was open to compromise
and did not expect to get everything he had asked for in his
He also used his tweets to reiterate his position that taxes
for middle income families should be extended.
One recent college graduate named Mandi, who used the
Twitter handle "dontbeaprat" and whose picture showed a shock of
purple hair, asked whether such tax cuts would help her since
she did not have a full-time job.
Obama responded that tax cuts without revenue increases
would result in a reduction in student loans, while work/study
and college tax credits would expire.
"Bad for growth," he tweeted, then added, "like your hair!"