Senate leaders are rushing to assemble a last-ditch agreement to avoid middle-class tax increases and possibly delay steep spending cuts in an urgent attempt to find common ground after weeks of postelection gridlock.

President Barack Obama makes statement on fiscal cliff negotiations (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

An impatient President Barack Obama is pressing top lawmakers to cut a deal, even one that falls short of the ambitions he and congressional leaders may once have harbored for a bigger deficit reduction package.

Obama used his weekly media address to push Senators along. He will appear on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday morning, his first appearance on a Sunday morning show in 3 years.

Following a White House meeting Friday among Obama and congressional leaders, aides to the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada began racing against the clock for a bipartisan bargain. Senators could vote on a plan as early as Sunday.

The deadline for avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff is year's end.

Budget struggle raising anxiety for health care

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) leaves the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama and other Congressional leaders (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Confused about the federal budget struggle? So are doctors, hospital administrators and other professionals who serve the 100 million Americans covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Rarely has the government sent so many conflicting signals in so short a time about the bottom line for the health care industry.

Cuts are coming, says Washington, and some could be really big. Yet more government spending is also being promised as President Barack Obama's health care overhaul advances and millions of uninsured people move closer to getting government-subsidized coverage.

Thornton Kirby, president of the South Carolina Hospital Association, says it's like someone being told they are getting a raise, but their taxes and gas bill are also going up. There's no way to tell how deep a hole you might be in.