WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama held out hope for a last-minute agreement to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending cuts after a meeting with congressional leaders, scolding Congress for leaving the problem unresolved until the eleventh hour.
"The hour for immediate action is here," he told reporters at the White House. "I'm modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved," he said...
Obama took Congress to task for stalling on negotiations in a manner that is reminiscent of the 2011 stalemate that brought the nation close to the brink of defaulting on its debt and that hurt the economic recovery.
"This is déjà vu all over again," he said.
"America wonders why it is that in this town for some reason you can't get stuff done in an organized timetable," he added. "Well, we're now at the last minute."
The president said the latest budget impasse was once again harming economic growth.
"Already you're seeing businesses and consumers starting to hold back because of the dysfunction that they see in Washington."
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