December 22, 2012 - 10:54 AMT
Obama presses for smaller "fiscal cliff" deal

Facing a stalemate in "fiscal cliff" talks, President Barack Obama on Friday, Dec 21 pressed his Republican foes in Congress to have some eggnog, sing some Christmas carols and come back to work next week ready to pass a scaled-back plan to help middle-class Americans, The Ticket reported.

“Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done,” the president said in hastily announced remarks in the White House briefing room. “This is something within our capacity to solve. It doesn’t take that much work. We just have to do the right thing.”

Facing a Jan. 1 deadline, the president and Republican House Speaker John Boehner have thus far failed to agree on a compromise that would avert the largest tax hike in American history and painful government spending cuts that, taken together, could plunge the fragile economy into a new recession.

Obama pressed polarized lawmakers to extend current tax rates on household income up to $250,000, extend unemployment benefits due to expire and set the stage for broader talks in 2013 on reducing the deficit. “That’s an achievable goal that can get done in 10 days,” he insisted.

“I am still ready and willing to get a comprehensive package done,” he added.

Conservative opposition to raising any tax rates forced Boehner to yank a “Plan B” fall-back option late Thursday. That legislation would have raised rates only on income above $1 million. The speaker said early Friday that “God only knows” how Washington can avoid the "fiscal cliff" and said it was now up to Obama and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to find a way.