NEW YORK (
) -- President Barack Obama might have gotten the last word in the fiscal-cliff disaster that climaxed late Thursday.
Obama said he spoke with House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) about extending tax cuts to 98% of Americans, implementing reform for deficit reduction to promote healthy business and extend unemployment insurance.
"As of today, I am still ready and willing to get a comprehensive package done," Obama said. "All of us, every single one of us, agrees tax rates should not go up for the other 98% of Americans."
The speech came a day after Boehner
failed to rally enough support
among his own party for
his "Plan B" deal
, which would have raised tax rates on incomes above $1 million and cut $1 trillion in spending.
The House speaker, whose political career now is at risk, re-emerged Friday morning to punt the duties of crafting a proposal back to Obama and Reid, deflecting criticism that he botched a deal that Americans want.
"The House has already passed bills addressing the fiscal cliff," Boehner said. "So, unless the president and Congress take action, tax rates will go up on every American taxpayer and devastating defense cuts will go into effect in 10 days."
Reid, for his part, spoke from the Senate floor on Friday to slam Boehner for wasting a week on a "futile political stunt."
"It's time for the speaker and all Republicans to return to the negotiating table," Reid said. "Let me be plain: There is nothing preventing the speaker from taking up our bill and giving middle-class families certainty."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) tweeted Thursday night that the House would return after the Christmas holiday "when needed." That suggested legislators remain open to reaching a deal during the holiday week.
reported Friday afternoon
that Obama was considering a package that would extend Bush-era tax cuts to those earning less than $250,000 a year, halt across-the-board spending cuts and renew unemployment-insurance benefits.
With a little more than a week before tax-relief measures expire and deep spending cuts get triggered, it's difficult to predict if legislators will reach a deal to avert the so-called cliff.
Obama could only say: "I want to wish every American a Merry Christmas -- because we didn't get this done, I will see you next week."
-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.