(ABCNEWS.GO) — As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.
"I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals," Obama said today in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.
"I don't think they'll do that," he said of Republicans forcing tax-rate increases for families earning $250,000 a year or less.
Advertisement - story continues below
The sign of optimism follows weeks of tense negotiations and public posturing to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," an economically toxic package of $6 trillion in across-the-board tax hikes and $1.2 trillion in deep spending cuts that could begin in early 2013.