Republicans oppose the return to higher rates, saying it will inhibit job growth because small business owners declare their profits as personal income and therefore would face a tax increase.
In response, Obama and Democrats note that their plan -- already approved by the Senate and needing House approval to be signed into law by the president -- affects just 2% of taxpayers and 3% of small business owners.
While Republicans argue those small business owners account for about half of all business income, Democrats say that's because they include law firms, hedge funds traders and other high-income operations.
Retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, predicted Tuesday on MSNBC that a deal would get worked out in a week's time.
"It would be wise on their part not to come too quickly with a deal because that would give all the interest groups a chance to get organized and try to kill it," Conrad said. "And we know that on the right, on the left, special interest groups are just salivating at the chance to attack any agreement because, look, any agreement is going to have controversy attached to it."