President Obama is appealing to key lawmakers to compromise and cooperate on the "urgent business" of avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.
He spoke as he convened congressional leaders Friday at the White House for an opening round of deficit talks -- their first meeting since the election.
President Obama has insisted any deal involve higher taxes on the top 2 percent of income earners. Republicans leaders are vowing to resist rate hikes as job-killers, though they've signaled they're open to added revenue through curbs on deductions and credits.
The combination of tax hikes and automatic spending cuts will hit New Year's Day unless lawmakers and Obama act. Top economists have warned the nation could be plunged back into recession if they don't.