U.S. President Barack Obama speaking at the White House, Dec. 29, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama Photo by Bloomberg
Text size
related tags

U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a bill that boosts taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while preserving tax cuts for most American households.

The bill, which averts a looming fiscal cliff that had threatened to plunge the nation back into recession, also extends expiring jobless benefits, prevents cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors and delays for two months billions of dollars in across-the-board spending cuts in defense and domestic programs.

Experts had feared that the planned expiry of tax cuts for all taxpayers and the spending cuts would together have dealt a blow to the economy of more than 600 billion dollars, potentially tipping it off what was termed a fiscal cliff and back into recession.

Last-minute negotiations in the Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday yielded the compromise.

The Republican-run House approved the measure by a 257-167 vote late Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after the Democratic-led Senate passed it 89-8.

The president signed the bill remotely while on vacation in Hawaii with a device called an autopen.