With the deadline on the "fiscal cliff" fast approaching, President Obama on Saturday urged Congress one more time to pass legislation that would prevent income taxes from rising, saying the economy "can't afford a politically self-inflicted wound."
But he reiterated on Saturday that if lawmakers could not agree on a plan, he would call on the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on a "basic" emergency fiscal package.
"I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities – as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote," Obama said in the address. "If they still want to vote no, and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work."
The radio address comes a day after Obama met with congressional leaders for more than an hour, calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWhat if there’s no 'Nuclear Option' in the Senate? Republican failure Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPence breaks tie, allowing Senate to revoke Obama order on abortion provider funding Pence casts tiebreaking Senate procedural vote on funding for abortion providers What if there’s no 'Nuclear Option' in the Senate? MORE (R-Ky.) to iron out a deal to prevent a take hike along with spending cuts as part of the so-called fiscal cliff.
While Obama said Friday he was "modestly optimistic" that a deal could be worked out, he placed the blame for the delay on Congress.
"America wonders why it is in this town why you can't get stuff done in an organized timetable, why everything has to wait until the last minute." Obama told reporters on Friday. "We're now at the last minute."
Just as he has in recent days, Obama -- who cut his Christmas vacation in Hawaii short to return to Washington earlier this week -- urged lawmakers to "do their jobs" to help the economy to continue to grow.
"The housing market is healing, but that could stall if folks are seeing smaller paychecks," the president said. "The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already, families and businesses are starting to hold back because of the dysfunction they see in Washington.
"You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day," Obama added. "The folks you sent here to serve should do the same. We cannot let Washington politics get in the way of America’s progress. We’ve got to do what it takes to protect the middle class, grow this economy, and move our country forward."