Obama steps up pressure on Republicans over fiscal cliff

  • U.S. President Barack Obama has ramped up pressure on Republicans to accept a deal in a bid to prevent the country from going over a "fiscal cliff".

    Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, he blamed Republicans for the stalemate.

    "They say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way, but the way they're behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme," said Obama.

    Congress must reach an agreement by the end of the year before $600 billion worth of automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in, which could lead the U.S. economy into recession.

    The automatic cuts are set to take place because Congress failed to reach a deal on deficit reduction after a deadlock over the U.S. debt ceiling in mid-2011.

    According to the Washington Post, Democrat Senate leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell have set a deadline of 3 pm local time to reach a compromise agreement.

    After that they will convene caucus meetings of their members to decide whether the measure will have enough support to be put to a vote.