President Obama talks Petraeus and fiscal cliff during first post-election press conference

WASHINGTON - President Obama discussed a wide variety of topics, including the fiscal cliff and Gen. Petraeus's scandal, during his first post-election press conference.

 

Fiscal Cliff

President Barack Obama said the economy cannot afford a tax increase on all Americans and is calling on congressional Republicans to support an extension of existing tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less.

Obama said he is confident that he and Congress can reach an agreement that avoids a so-called "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, when all tax rates would revert to Clinton-era levels and a series of deep spending cuts kick in.

Obama addressed the fiscal cliff at the opening of a press conference Wednesday in the White House.

In saying that the economy can't afford plunging into tax increases at the start of the year, the president distanced himself from some in his party who would prefer the tax increases and spending to occur to gain leverage.

 

Gen. Petraeus

President Barack Obama said he's withholding judgment on the timing of the revelations that his CIA director was under investigation for a possible national security violation.

The House Intelligence Committee was holding hearings on that very point Wednesday.

The president told a White House news conference that he doesn't have all the information about the probe involving former Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as head of the CIA last week after disclosing an affair.

Officials have said that Obama was not told about the investigation until after the election. He says he has "a lot of confidence generally" in the FBI, which is conducting the inquiry.

 

Immigration Reform

President Barack Obama said America must "seize the moment" to seek an overhaul of the immigration system and he expects that work to start soon after his inauguration for a second term.

In his first news conference after winning re-election, Obama says conversations are already taking place among his staff and members of Congress.

The president said comprehensive immigration reform should include a path to legal status for those who came to the U.S. illegally seeking work. He says those immigrants should pay back taxes, learn English and potentially pay fines.

Obama is urging lawmakers to codify his decision earlier this year to stop deporting young illegal immigrants brought here by their parents.

He said the country needs to build on momentum from the last week's election.

 

Mitt Romney

President Barack Obama says he hasn't yet scheduled a meeting with Republican Mitt Romney, but hopes to have the chance to talk with Romney before the end of the year.

Obama said the election was only a week ago, and that everybody needs to catch their breath.

He said he thinks Romney did a terrific job with the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Obama said he's not pre-judging how the former Massachusetts governor may be interested in helping the country, nor does he have a specific assignment -- but Obama said he does want to talk about some of Romney's ideas.