United States President Obama has reiterated a call for high earners in the United States to pay more in taxes.
At his first news conference since winning re-election, he called for quick legislation to rule out tax rises on the first $US250,000 of income, but refused to extend cuts for the wealthiest 2%.
"We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy," Mr Obama said at the White House on Wednesday.
The US faces a "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax rises from 1 January. Automatic budget cuts are set to occur because Congress failed to reach a deal on deficit reduction after a stand-off over the US debt ceiling in mid-2011.