8:13 am Dec. 31, 20122
President Obama made a rare appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, his first since 2009, to cast himself as the sober adult offering reasonable compromises to an intractable House.
"At a certain point it is very important for Republicans in Congress to be willing to say, 'We understand we're not going to get 100 percent, we are willing to compromise in a serious way in order to solve problems,'" Obama said. "As opposed to be worrying about the next election."
But even the president seemed to have little idea whether Congress was close to the point of compromise, and whether a deal could be hammered out and signed before the country goes off the so-called fiscal cliff on January 1.
Obama said he had made significant concessions on entitlement spending, which were anathema to some in his own party, but that Republicans weren't yet willing to give on taxes. The president said Senate Democrats would introduce their own bill if leaders failed to reach a compromise.
“One way or another, we’ll get through this,” he said.
On ABC's "This Week," Sen. Chuck Schumer said the odds were “a little higher” than 50-50.
By Sunday night, even with the intervention of Vice President Joe Biden, the Senate had still failed to reach a deal, with conflicting reports about exactly how much progress had been made, and whether a deal was likely.
“If we are not able to reach an agreement, it will be dire,” said Republican senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, who appeared opposite Schumer.
Kyl questioned whether the president had seriously proposed enough spending cuts, and whether it would amount to any deficit reduction.
"Ironically, the revenue that's produced in the president's proposals is about the same amount of money we're going to be spending just to provide disaster relief because of the hurricane to some of the folks on the East Coast," Kyl said.
(The Senate on Friday passed a $60.4-billion relief package to help the region recover from Hurricane Sandy, but a number of Republicans have called for a smaller aid bill, and its fate in the House remains uncertain.)
Obama was also asked about his priorities for the next term and how hard he'll push for new gun laws in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
"You know, that was the worst day of my presidency," Obama said. "And it's not something that I want to see repeated."
The president said he doubted a recommendation by the National Rifle Association to provide armed security at every school would solve the problem.
"I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools," he said. "And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem. And, look, here's the bottom line. We're not going to get this done unless the American people decide it's important."