It's getting down to the wire, but President Obama is still pushing Congress to some to some sort of agreement ahead of this so-called "fiscal cliff." After meeting, Obama urges leaders to take 'immediate action' :
President Obama said Friday he was "modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved" to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," but warned congressional leaders he would demand an "up or down vote" on a Democratic Senate bill if a bipartisan agreement could not be reached in a timely fashion.
"We had a constructive meeting today," Obama said. "Sens. Reid and McConnell are discussing a potential agreement."
The president's remarks came shortly after a meeting with congressional leaders, Vice President Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office.
But the president also warned that if the leaders were unable to strike an agreement, he would push for an up-and-down vote on a proposal that would increase taxes on those making more than $250,000 annually, and extend unemployment insurance.
"If we don't see an agreement between the two leaders in the Senate, I expect a bill to go on the floor ... that makes sure taxes on middle-class families don't go up," Obama said.
The president said he believed such a plan "could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities, as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote."
Blasting the negotiations as "déjà vu all over again," Obama also chastised congressional leaders for waiting until the last minute to strike a deal. Read on...
Here's more from Greg Sargent: Obama to GOP: Last chance:
Obama is demanding that Mitch McConnell allow a straight up-or-down vote on Harry Reid’s fallback proposal, if the two sides cannot reach a deal. If no deal is reached, Obama is daring McConnell to filibuster a continued tax cut for the middle class and daring Boehner not to hold a vote on it.
A senior Senate Dem aide tells me that the fallback proposal Reid is working on would extend tax cuts on income just up to $250,000, not up to $400,000, as Obama’s most recent compromise proposal did. What this means is that if Senate Republican leaders fail to agree with Senate Dems on a proposal, the fallback plan Reid will offer will essentially rescind Obama’s offer to raise the income threshold to $400,000.
It’s possible, as many commentators are speculating, that today’s machinations mean Reid and McConnell really may reach a deal. But if not, by daring Republicans one last time to refuse to allow simple majority votes on extending the middle class tax cuts, Obama is signaling that if we do go over the cliff, he intends to extract maximum political pain for it.