Obama wants fiscal cliff deal before Christmas


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the White House in Washington D.C. on Dec. 19, 2012.(Xinhua/Fang Zhe)

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he and the House Speaker John Boehner need to bridge a gap of "a few hundred billion dollars" on the "fiscal cliff" talks and expressed hope to strike a deal before Christmas.

"I've said I'mwilling to make some cuts. What separates us is probably a few hundred billion dollars," Obama said at a news conference.

"I remain not only open to conversations, but I remain eager to get something done. I'd like to get it done before Christmas," he added.

The comments came after the White House announced that Obama would veto a backup plan proposed by Boehner on Tuesday, which would extend the current lower tax rates for households earning less than 1 million dollars a year.

The White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said Boehner's plan places "too big of a burden on the middle class, seniors, and the most vulnerable Americans while asking too little of the wealthiest Americans." It would give millionaires a tax break of 50,000 dollars.

Boehner said on Tuesday that he would move to "Plan B", a proposal for avoiding the looming fiscal woes if his attempts to forge a broader deal with the White House fail. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives could vote on Thursday on the bill.

In his latest offer, Obama said he would accept a deal that raise the threshold for tax hikes for a household'sannual income to 400,000 dollars from 250,000 dollars he initially insisted.

As time dwindling for the "fiscal cliff" talks, Obama and Boehner made concessions on their long-held positions and tried to narrow disagreements over numbers.