Updated 2:21 p.m. -- Saying that Republican opponents should "take me out of it," President Barack Obama appealed Wednesday for compromise on the "fiscal cliff," urging GOP House members to put aside personal and political concerns after a week marked by the Newtown shooting tragedy and continued bickering over the nation's deficit woes.
Acknowledging that his most vehement foes live in conservative districts with little political "incentive" to back the Democratic president, Obama blamed Republican rank-and-file for personalizing the politics of possible deficit reduction plans.
Speaking at a White House news event, President Obama says that in order to reach a compromise on the fiscal cliff he "is prepared to do some very tough things." Watch his comments.
"I don’t know how much of that just has to do with [the idea that] it is very hard for them to say yes to me," Obama said at a press conference to announce a new task force to prevent gun violence. "But, you know, at some point, you know, they’ve got to take me out of it and think about their voters and think about what’s best for the country."
"If there’s one thing we should have after this week, it should be a sense of perspective about what’s important," he added, alluding to the Newtown shootings that left 26 dead, including 20 children.
Senior White House officials say that negotiations have stalled since yesterday, when House Speaker John Boehner introduced a "Plan B" stopgap measure that would raise tax rates for those making over $1 million annually but would not immediately tackle larger issues like spending cuts and defense "sequestration."
House Speaker John Boehner says that President Obama's offer in revenue and spending reductions fails the test of a balance approach.
The administration argues that the "Plan B" would mean that scores of wealthy earners would keep getting substantial tax breaks while 2 million Americans would lose unemployment insurance.
"That violates the core principles that were debated during the course of this election and that the American people determined was the wrong way to go," Obama said.
That premise, however, has been vigorously disputed by Republican leaders, who say that the “Plan B” legislation would immediately prevent tax hikes on the middle class, which the White House has always called its top priority in the negotiations.
In a brief statement to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Boehner said that his proposal will pass the House tomorrow, challenging Obama to instruct Senate Democrats to greenlight the backup measure as well.
"The president will have a decision to make," he said. "He can call on the Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history."
NBC's Luke Russert joins Alex Wagner and the NOW panel to make sense of fiscal cliff dealings.
"The White House's opposition to a back-up plan to ensure taxes don't rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said earlier Wednesday. "Republicans have always said a broader, 'balanced' plan is the ideal solution, and we have put one forward. In the absence of a 'balanced' solution from the President, however, we must act to stop taxes from rising across the board in 12 days."
While Obama said he understands lead negotiator Boehner faces "challenges" within his caucus from rank-and-file members fearful of a primary challenge from the right, he accused GOP heavies of keeping on their "partisan war paint" long after Election Day.
"I think an environment needs to be created within not just the House Republican caucus but also among Senate Republicans that say the campaign is over, and let’s see if we can do what’s right for the country. At least for the next month. And then, you know, we can reengage in all the other battles that they’ll want to fight."
NBC's Kristen Welker contributed to this report.