President Barack Obama says he is open to extending the Bush tax cuts for another year or two, even for families making $250,000 or more a year.
"Making those tax cuts for the upper end permanent is something that the president does not believe is a good idea," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, but Obama is "willing to listen to both sides."
The president himself brought up the subject at a press conference after the Democrats lost control of the House in Tuesday's midterm elections.
"We have to act in order to assure that middle-class families don't see a big tax spike because of how the big tax cuts have been structured," Obama said. "It is very important that we extend those middle-class tax provisions to hold middle-class families harmless."
Prior to the elections, Obama said he wanted to extend the cuts only to families making less than $250,000. Republicans said they should be extended to everyone.
Gibbs said the president wants Congress to deal with the issue before the cuts expire on January 1.
"I think what the president believes is that we have both houses coming back and that this is an issue that must and has to be dealt with in that session," Gibbs said.
"I take any signal that the president may be backing off his ledge to raise taxes on small businesses as a good sign, but we have to see where this discussion goes," said Rep. Dave Camp, -Mich., who will become chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and eans Committee in January.
Obama and congressional leaders are expected to discuss the matter at a November 18 meeting after the president returns from his overseas trip to Asia. Obama is scheduled to depart the White House Friday for a 10-day tour through India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.