POSTED: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 6:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — President Obama is putting pressure on Republicans to keep middle class Americans from falling off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year, but Republicans are resisting any move that could end up raising taxes on the rich.
"Our first job is to make sure that taxes on middle class families don't go up, and since we all - theoretically agree on that - we should go ahead and get that done," President Obama said Wednesday.
House Democrats agree.
"If we can get a few House Republicans to agree as well I'll sign this bill as soon as Congress sends it my way," Mr. Obama promised.
Republican Tom Cole got on board.
"We all agree that we're not going to raise taxes on people who make less than $250,000 dollars, so we should just take them out of this discussion right now," Cole told reporters.
Still, House Speaker John Boehner says no.
Once tax hikes get blocked for 98 percent of Americans, Democrats can go home for the holidays and on January 1st tax rates rise automatically on the top 2 percent.
Worried business leaders came to Capitol Hill saying Congress has to avoid the cliff, even if the rich do pay more.
"Entitlements have to be touched and revenues have to be touched," said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
Speaker Boehner says he's still against higher tax rates for the rich.
"We're willing to put revenue on the table as long as we're not raising rates," he repeated on Wednesday.
The president says there will be no long-term deal without a rate hike on the rich, and he's urging the middle class to lobby lawmakers.
Speaker Boehner said he's optimistic a deal can be worked out sooner rather than later and White House negotiators will be on the hill on Thursday, a positive sign.