Obama Says Immediate Action Needed on Fiscal Cliff - 8 News NOW

Obama Says Immediate Action Needed on Fiscal Cliff

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama said "the hour for immediate action is here" on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

The president said he remains "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 said 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 said an hourlong meeting Friday with congressional leaders was "good and constructive."

Senate leaders said they hope to reach a compromise that could be presented to lawmakers by Sunday, little more than 24 hours before the deadline.

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