President Barack Obama began his afternoon remarks at the White House by saying, "I realize that the last thing you want to hear on New Year's Eve is another speech from me."
But he suggested "progress" has been made on a "fiscal cliff" deal.
"For the last few days, leaders in both parties have been working toward an agreement that will prevent a middle class tax hike from hitting 98 percent of all Americans starting tomorrow," Obama said, according to a rush transcript. "Preventing that tax hike has been my top priority, because the last thing folks, like the folks up here on this stage, can afford right now is it to pay an extra $2,000 in taxes next year," he said, gesturing to the real Americans on stage with him during the speech.
"Middle class families can't afford it. Businesses can't afford it. Our economy can't afford it."
Obama sounded optimistic, however: "Today it appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year's tax hike is within sight. It is not done. There are still issues left to resolve, but we're hopeful that Congress can get it done."