President Barack Obama told ABC News on Tuesday that he believed Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners by the end of the year.

“I’m pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle-class taxes hostage in trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” Obama told Barbara Walters in an interview.

“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.

Obama and Congress are trying to reach a deal to avert the automatic triggering of $6 trillion in tax hikes and $1.2 trillion in spending cuts that could begin on Jan. 2 via sequestration.

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