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Obama Phones Minn. Residents, Talks Fiscal Cliff

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – President Barack Obama is ramping up efforts to force Congress to make a deal.

He’s hoping to reach a budget agreement soon to avoid what Washington calls a “fiscal cliff.” That’s what happens if Congress and the president don’t reach a budget deal by the end of the year, and taxes go up for everyone.

On Wednesday, some Minnesota residents sat in on a call from the Commander in Chief.

The phone call was part of a nationwide Democratic effort to pressure Congress into a budget deal. The president spoke with mayors of three cities: Philadelphia, Orlando, and Minneapolis. He told middle class Minnesotans their taxes could go up $2,200.

For Sara Marlow, sitting in on a presidential phone call was “surreal.”

The single mother from Fridley said a possible $2,200 tax hike would make it harder to make ends meet.

“It equates to approximately 6 months of pre-school,” she said. “It’s over 18 months of health insurance. I mean the list is huge.”

Minnetonka resident Carl Holmquist also sat in on the call. He’s currently unemployed, and juggling monthly expenses.

“We spend another $300, $400 out of pocket on a lot of health care costs. So, for me, [the possible tax hike] means paying for a lot of those costs,” he said.

In Washington, House Speaker John Boehner offered a grim holiday assessment, telling House members not to plan on going home for Christmas or New Year’s.

“The longer the White House slow walks this discussion, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff and the more American jobs are placed in jeopardy,” he said.

But Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says the president won’t budge on raising taxes on the wealthy, adding that the president’s re-election gave him a mandate to do it.

“The American people have spoken,” he said. “They want taxes raised on the top end instead of good middle class families.”

Remember: The country wouldn’t even be in this position if Congress and the president had agreed on a budget last year. But instead of actually fixing the budget, they put in place across-the-board tax hikes and budget cuts that will automatically take effect if they can’t agree on something soon.

Here’s the date to remember: Dec. 31st, New Year’s Eve. After that, you’ll see a tax hike in your first paycheck. And you might want to check on any government programs that you rely on, because soon you’ll start to see those deep cuts also take effect.

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