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December 21, 2012

Obama: Some nog, some cookies, a few carols and a deal?

President Obama tried Friday to salvage the stalled fiscal cliff talks, offering a slimmed down package that avoids a tax hike on middle class Americans.

Speaking in the White House briefing room before he was to jet to Hawaii for Christmas, Obama said he hoped the holiday would give lawmakers a chance to cool off and come back ready to compromise.

"I hope it gives everybody some perspective," Obama said. "Everybody can cool off. Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones.

"And then I'd ask members of Congress, while they're back home, to think about the obligations we have to the people who sent us here," he said. "Think about the hardship that so many Americans endure if Congress does nothing at all."

House Speaker John Boehner responded cooly to the offer, saying through a spokesman that Obama has "failed to offer any solution that passes the test of balance," but that he remains hopeful and "will return to Washington following the holiday, ready to find a solution that can pass both houses of Congress."

Obama said both parties agree that taxes shouldn't be raised on the middle class and he called for the House and Senate to extend Bush-era tax cuts for them by Jan. 1, along with unemployment insurance. He said the fallback plan would allow lawmakers to work on further agreements on deficit reduction.

He noted no one would get everything they wanted: "In this Congress, laws can only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. And that means nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. Everybody gotta give a little bit in a sensible way," he said. "We move forward together, or we do not move forward at all."

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