President Barack Obama arrives in the briefing room where he said he was 'modestly optimistic' while making a statement on fiscal cliff negotiations.. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says "the hour for immediate action is here" on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
The president says he remains "modestly optimistic" that an agreement can be reached in Congress before a looming year-end deadline to avoid tax increases and spending cuts.
If Congress can't reach a deal, the president says Congress should allow a vote on a basic package that would preserve tax cuts for middle-class Americans while extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and working toward a foundation for a broader deal.
The president says an hourlong meeting Friday with congressional leaders was "good and constructive."
Senate leaders say they hope to reach a compromise that could be presented to lawmakers by Sunday, little more than 24 hours before the deadline.
Fiscal cliff tax calculators:
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.