Obama ‘modestly optimistic’ after meeting Congress leaders

Washington: US President Barack Obama appeared "modestly optimistic" after meeting top Congressional leaders and urged them take immediate measures to address the looming fiscal cliff before the December 31 midnight deadline, in absence of which the nation faces the prospect of another economic recession.

"I'm modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved. Nobody is going to get 100 per cent of what they want, but let's make sure that middle-class families and the American economy – and, in fact, the world economy – aren't adversely impacted because people can't do their jobs," Obama told reporters at the White House following his hour-long consultations with the top Congressional leaders yesterday.

"We're now at the point where, in just four days, every American's tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. Every American's paycheck will get considerably smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy, it would be bad for middle-class families, and it would be bad for businesses that depend on family spending."

"Fortunately, Congress can prevent it from happening if they act right now," he said.

Obama cut short his Hawaii vacation and returned to Washington on Thursday, leaving the First Lady and the two daughters behind, in his last ditch effort to avoid the nation hitting a fiscal cliff.

But as of yesterday, not much visible progress were seen despite his meeting with Congressional leaders and some behind the scene hectic paralysis, which were expected to continue over the weekend.

"I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time," he said.