In an exclusive interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," the president chided House Republicans as the clock continued to run out on a potential agreement.
"They say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way, but the way they're behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected," Obama said. "That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme."
With a little more than one day remaining before the nation faces automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that could impact an already-wobbling American economy, the president implied that there has been little progress in recent days to justify hopes of a last-minute deal to prevent going over the fiscal cliff at year's end.
"I was modestly optimistic yesterday, but we don't yet see an agreement," he said in the interview, taped on Saturday at the White House. "And now the pressure's on Congress to produce."
The president appeared open to eliminating at least some of the scheduled automatic spending cuts if Republicans agree to tax increases for the wealthy. Those cuts are slated to impact defense spending and non-entitlement discretionary spending beginning on Jan. 1.