WASHINGTON - PRESIDENT Barack Obama called on Republicans on Saturday to help extend tax breaks to middle class families before they expire at the end of 2010, urging opponents that 'there's room for us to compromise and get it done together.'

Tax cuts approved in 2001 and 2003 by former president George W. Bush are set to expire at the end of this year, and Democrats - mauled in the national legislature in elections on Tuesday - are hoping to extend them to families earning less than 250,000 US dollars (S$321,275) a year, Mr Obama said in his weekly address.

The 'lame duck' session of the outgoing Congress, still dominated by Democrats ahead of the staunchly conservative Republican wave arriving in Washington in January, only have a short time to act.

'The campaign season is over. And it's time to focus on our shared responsibilities to work together and deliver those results: speeding up our economic recovery, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class so that the American Dream feels like it's back within reach.

'If Congress doesn't act by New Year's Eve, middle-class families will see their taxes go up starting on New Year's Day,' Mr Obama warned. 'But the last thing we should do is raise taxes on middle-class families.

For the past decade, they saw their costs rise, their incomes fall, and too many jobs go overseas. They're the ones bearing the brunt of the recession,' he said.

Obama: Tax cuts for middle class