President Barack Obama announced on Friday he is still "ready and willing" to get a package done to avert the fiscal cliff, the latest development in an ongoing battle to reach an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff before the new year.
"As of today I am still ready and willing to get a comprehensive package done," Obama said, specifically urging lawmakers to craft a deal that would protect middle-class Americans from a tax hike set to be implemented if no deal is met.
Obama said he spoke with GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Friday, asking the congressional leaders to come up with a smaller fiscal package in the next 10 days.
"Now is not the time for more self-inflicted wounds, certainly not coming from Washington," Obama said.
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after House Republican rebels thwarted Boehner's plan to prevent tax increases for all but those making over a million dollars a year.
"While we may have not been able to get the votes last night to avert 99.81 percent of the tax increases, I don't think – they weren't taking that out on me," Boehner said when asked Friday if he was worried about his speakership. "They were dealing with the perception that somebody might accuse them of raising taxes."
The AP reports:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama issued a stern summons to congressional leaders Friday to approve legislation before year's end to prevent tax increases on millions of middle class Americans and prevent an expiration of long-term unemployment benefits for the jobless.
One day after House anti-tax rebels torpedoed Republican legislation because it would raise rates on million-dollar-earners, Obama said he still wants a bill that requires the well-to-do to pay more. "Everybody's got to give a little bit in a sensible way" to prevent the economy from pitching over a recession-threatening fiscal cliff, he said.
He spoke after talking by phone with House Speaker John Boehner – architect of the failed House bill – and meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"I still think we can get it done," Obama said as he struggled to pick up the pieces of weeks of failed negotiations and political maneuvering.
The president spoke at the end of a day in which stocks tumbled and congressional leaders squabbled as the fiscal cliff drew implacably closer.
"How we get there, God only knows," said Boehner at a morning news conference, referring to the increasingly tangled attempts to beat the Jan. 1 deadline and head off the perilous combination of across-the-board tax hikes and deep spending cuts that threaten to send the economy into recession.
There was no immediate response from his office to the president's remarks.
Obama spoke shortly before a scheduled departure for Hawaii for Christmas, but in an indication of the importance of the issue, told reporters he will be returning to the White House next week.