With "fiscal cliff" talks going to the wire, President Barack Obama said Friday he was optimistic that an agreement can be reached in time to avert the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that could throw the economy back into recession.

President Barack Obama is holding firm on a tax break only for families making up to $250,000 a year, CNBC learned Friday, as a bipartisan group of congressional leaders met for an hour at the White House for a last-ditch effort to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

"I am hopeful and optimistic," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said after what he called a "good" meeting. He said he hoped Senate leaders can make recommendations by Sunday, when the House reconvenes.