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Obama Is 'Hopeless Optimist' on Fiscal Cliff, Scales Back Expectations

Obama said he hoped the Christmas holiday would help lawmakers reflect.

Drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones ... [and] think about the obligations to the people who sent us here, Obama said of the members of Congress who have been unable to reach a deal for two years to avert the fiscal crisis they created.

The president appealed repeatedly to lawmakers to compromise.

The American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility. Nobody gets 100 percent of what they want, he said.

Obama said he is still ready and willing to do a comprehensive deal, whether it happens all at once or in several different steps.

He also touched on other priorities he would like to accomplish next year, such as gun safety and jobs legislation, but said lawmakers first must avert the cliff.

He left the briefing room without answering any of the shouted questions on the cliff or the National Rifle Association and gun control.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile, continued to call on Reid to bring up the Houses tax cut bill, allow for amendments and go to conference with the House. Boehner, too, put the onus on the Senate.

But earlier Friday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, urged Boehner to negotiate with the president and realize that he needs Democratic votes to pass anything.

There are probably 100, 120, 140 Republicans in the House who are willing to vote for a deal along the lines that both President Obama and Speaker Boehner talked about, Schumer predicted. The problem is he was trying to get another 60 to 70 votes and the further right you go the harder it is, so I dont get the logic.

Schumer said that without Boehner signing off, the Senate wont want to act.

We are not going to want to come to a deal if we know Boehner is not going to move it in the House, he said. And Sen. McConnell, I dont know why he would want his members to put their necks on the line for deal that may not pass the House. So the key to this is the House.

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

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