President Obama said he is "modestly optimistic" Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell will forge a bill to resolve the well-known fiscal cliff.
But he warned that if Democrats and Republicans cannot prepare legislation to prevent automatic tax increases and spending cuts from kicking in on Jan. 1, he will make sure that Reid forces a vote on a Democrat-endorsed bill.
"I just had a good and constructive discussion with Senate and House leaders," Obama said during a Friday afternoon news conference. "I'm optimistic we still can get an agreement. Senators Reid and McConnell are working on such an agreement. But if an agreement isn't reached in time. I will urge Sen. Reid to bring a basic package to the floor for an up or down vote."
That package, Obama said, would extend middle-class tax cuts and unemployment benefits as well as propose solutions for longterm deficit reduction.
"The American people are watching what we do. Their patience is going thin. This is déjà vu all over again," he said. "The American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self inflicted wound to our economy."