TODAY   |  December 01, 2012

Obama, GOP battle over fiscal cliff

The president urged Congress to act and avoid the fiscal cliff, and said if it is not avoided taxes will go up for everyone, including the middle class. “That's sort of like the lump of coal you get for Christmas,” Obama said. “That's a Scrooge Christmas.” NBC’s Mike Viqueira reports.

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>>> today is december 1st . democrats and republicans have until the end of the month to reach an agreement on how to avoid the fiscal cliff, because they have not won a lottery. mike is at the white house with more on what's holding them up.

>> you and i use the same calendar. it is indeed december 1st , exactly one month to go to avoid that fiscal cliff and economic catastrophe. but after a period of optimism after the election what we have right now, a typical washington standoff. visiting a toy factory outside philadelphia, the president urged congress to act and avoid the fiscal cliff. if not, he says, taxes go up for everyone, including the middle class .

>> that's sort of like the lump of coal you get for christmas. that's a scrooge christmas.

>> reporter: with the election over, the president has begun a new kind of campaign, for votes in congress. a series of white house meetings with business leaders, a grass roots effort on twitter, and friday's trip to an area rich in swing congressional districts . asking the public to tell republicans, allow rates to rise on the upper 2% of earnings while extending lower rates for everyone else.

>> i don't think it's acceptable to you for just a handful of republicans in congress to hold middle class tax cuts hostage simply because they don't want tax rates on upper income folks to go up. all right? that doesn't make sense.

>> reporter: mr. obama's opening bid includes $1.6 trillion in new revenue, about half coming from higher rates for wealthy. 600 billion in cuts to domestic programs like medicare. and $50 billion in new infrastructure spending. when treasury secretary tim geithner went to the capitol and laid out the plan for mitch mcconnell , aides on both sides said mcconnell burst out in laughter. with talks now entering the final month, house republicans offered a more somber assessment.

>> this is not a game. we're not interested in playing rope-a-dope.

>> i mean, it was not a serious proposal. and so right now we're almost nowhere.

>> reporter: lester, there's the inside game here in washington. there's the outside game of public pressure that the president is trying to apply. he continues both of those this week. he meets with governors here at the white house and more business ceos trying to get congress, trying to move those votes in the house of representatives , get something done before january 1st . lester?

>> thanks very much.