President Obama cuts vacation in Hawaii short as 'fiscal cliff' looms

HONOLULU - With a yearend deadline looming before the economy goes over the so-called fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama is cutting short his traditional Christmas holiday in Hawaii, planning to leave for Washington on Wednesday evening.

Obama was expected to arrive in Washington early Thursday, the White House said late Tuesday. First lady Michelle Obama and the couple's two daughters are scheduled to remain in Hawaii until Jan. 6.

In the past, the president's end-of-the-year holiday in his native state had stretched into the new year. The first family left Washington last Friday night.

Congress was expected to return to Washington on Thursday. Before he departed for Hawaii, Obama told reporters he expected to be back in the capital this week.

Without action by Obama and Congress, automatic budget cuts and tax increases are set to begin in January, which many economists say could send the country back into recession. So far, the president and congressional Republicans have been unable to reach agreement on any alternatives.

Lawmakers have expressed little but pessimism for the prospect of an agreement coming before Jan. 1. On Sunday, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said she expects any action in the waning days of the year to be "a patch because in four days we can't solve everything."

With the collapse last week of House Speaker John Boehner's plan to allow tax rates to rise on million-dollar-plus incomes, lawmakers were increasingly worried that no deal can be reached.

They were already preparing their arguments about who is to blame if the new year comes without an agreement.

Obama already has scaled back his ambitions for a sweeping budget bargain. Before leaving the capital on Friday, he called for a limited measure that extends George W. Bush-era tax cuts for most people and staves off federal spending cuts.

The Obamas were spending the holiday at a rented home near Honolulu. On Christmas Day, the president and first lady visited with members of the military to express thanks for their service.

"One of my favorite things is always coming to base on Christmas Day just to meet you and say `thank you,"' the president said at Marine Corps Base Hawaii's Anderson Hall. He said that being commander in chief was his greatest honor as president.

Obama took photos with individual service members and their families.

On Christmas Eve, Obama called members of the military to thank them for serving the nation, then joined his family for dinner, the White House said. The Obamas opened gifts Christmas morning, ate breakfast and sang carols.

Friends were joining the Obamas for Christmas dinner Tuesday night, the White House said.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments
IRS says tax season opens January 30 for 1040 filers IRS says tax season opens January 30 for 1040 filers

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 30 after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems.

Fiscal cliff: New tax law packed with breaks for businesses Fiscal cliff: New tax law packed with breaks for businesses

Tucked into the "fiscal cliff" tax package approved by Congress are billions of dollars in tax breaks that should make the new year a lot happier for businesses of many stripes, including film producers, race track owners and the makers of electric motorcycles.

Big problems are on the way after the fiscal cliff Big problems are on the way after the fiscal cliff

The "fiscal cliff" compromise on taxes leaves a big part of the nation's budget crisis still dangling.

Tax increase not just for the rich, Social Security Payroll Tax increases by 2% Tax increase not just for the rich, Social Security Payroll Tax increases by 2%

The tax increases because of the fiscal cliff bill are not just for the rich, Social Security Payroll Tax increases by 2 percent.

House passes fiscal cliff legislation; check out how Ohio lawmakers voted House passes fiscal cliff legislation; check out how Ohio lawmakers voted

Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to avoid the economy-threatening "fiscal cliff" of middle-class tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts late Tuesday night.

House of Representatives passes bill to avoid fiscal cliff 257 to 167 House of Representatives passes bill to avoid fiscal cliff 257 to 167

Past its own New Year's deadline, a weary Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to avoid a national "fiscal cliff" of middle class tax increases and spending cuts late Tuesday night.

House Republicans abandon demands for changes in Senate House Republicans abandon demands for changes in Senate's fiscal cliff bill, vote expected Tuesday

Maneuvered into a political corner, House Republicans abandoned demands for changes in emergency legislation to prevent widespread tax increases and painful across-the-board spending cuts and cleared the way for a final, climactic New Year's night vote.

'Fiscal cliff' bill to House, but doubts on spending cuts

The Senate-approved compromise to avert the "fiscal cliff" ran headlong into opposition from the No. 2 House Republican and other GOP lawmakers Tuesday, raising questions about how Congress might be able to give final approval.

Over the fiscal cliff: Soft or hard landing? Over the fiscal cliff: Soft or hard landing?

A look at why it's so hard for Republicans and Democrats to compromise on urgent matters of taxes and spending, and what happens if they fail.

Bill to avert fiscal cliff heads to House Bill to avert fiscal cliff heads to House

Legislation to negate a fiscal cliff of across-the-board tax increases and sweeping spending cuts to the Pentagon and other government agencies is headed to the GOP-dominated House after bipartisan, middle-of-the-night approval in the Senate.