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Government can afford to extend middle-class tax cuts: Geithner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday that the government could afford to extend tax breaks for middle-class Americans beyond the end of the year.

Geithner said the tax burden on the top 2 percent of Americans had to go up again "as part of a balanced plan to bring down our fiscal deficits down to a sustainable level." Individual tax cuts enacted under the Bush administration expire December 31.

"There is no real alternative to doing that," Geithner added. "Those should be allowed to expire, but the middle-class tax cuts we think we can afford to extend."

(Reporting by Doug Palmer, Rachelle Younglai)

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