President Obama urged congressional Republicans Wednesday to return to the bargaining table over the year-end fiscal cliff, saying the two sides are far too close to the big budget deal they have been seeking for the past two years to give up now.

“Take the deal,” Obama said at a noon news conference, where he suggested that the primary obstacle to an agreement is GOP antipathy for the president himself. “They keep finding ways to say no rather than to say yes… At some point they’ve got to take me out of it and think about what’s best for the voters. And do that.”

With House Speaker John A. Boehner focused on advancing a fallback plan that would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone who earns less than $1 million a year, senior administration officials said time is running out to put the talks with Obama back together. Obama insisted that he has made concessions in recent days that meet Republicans “at least halfway.”

“What separates us is probably a few hundreds billion dollars,” Obama said. “The idea that we would put our economy at risk because we can’t bridge that gap doesn't make a lot of sense.”

Obama said he plans to reach out to congressional leaders over the next few days to “find out what is holding this thing up.”

“Frankly, up until about a couple days ago, the Republicans and Speaker Boehner were in a position to say they got a fair deal. The fact that they have not taken it yet is puzzling.”

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