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Obama talks tax cuts, business investment


President Obama kept the pressure on Congress on Wednesday, especially on members of his own party in the House of Representatives, to pass the tax cut plan he believes is needed to jump-start the country's economic recovery and boost hiring in the private sector.

The Senate is widely expected to pass the agreement later today. It would extend the Bush-era tax rates for all income levels for two years and extend unemployment insurance for 13 months, among other things, but many Democrats are angry that tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will remain in place and about fact that the law would establish the lowest estate tax rate in decades.

The White House has spent a great deal of time and energy selling the deal, with the president himself urging members of Congress to accept the compromise for the good of the country, an argument he reiterated today.

"I know there are different aspects of this plan to which members of Congress on both sides of the aisle object. That's the nature of compromise," Obama said. "But we worked hard to negotiate an agreement that's a win for middle class families and a win for our economy and we can't afford to have it fall victim to either delay or defeat, so I urge members of Congress to pass tax cuts as swiftly as possible."

The president's remarks came ahead of a meeting at Blair House with 20 of the nation's top CEOs to discuss ways to spur growth and increase investment and innovation. The White House believes the tax deal will help give businesses certainty, in part because people will not see their taxes go up and on Jan. 1 and will continue to get unemployment insurance. Economists say both will help support consumer spending.

The administration also wants to see corporate America invest trillions of dollars they are holding in cash reserves.

"This morning, I hope to elicit ideas from these business leaders that will help us not only climb out of recession, but seize the promise of this moment," the president said. "Ideas about tax reform, ideas about a balance approach to regulation that will promote rather than undermine growth and ideas that will help encourage businesses to invest in America and American jobs at a time when they're holding nearly $2 trillion on their books."

Among the executives expected to attend the meeting were American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault; UPS CEO Scott Davis, who is also a member of the president's Export Council; GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt; Dupont CEO Ellen Kullman; Boeing CEO James McNerney; PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi; Google CEO Eric Schmidt; and UBS CEO Robert Wolf.