Hopes Rise for ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal as President Obama, Boehner Meet

Barack Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner moved close to agreement Monday considering the so-called ‘fiscal cliff,’ but several critical hurdlesthey are still to be cleared.

The U.S. president and the House Speaker met today at the White House for 45 minutes morning for their third conversation in the past five days aimed to approve a plan to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff.” Photo: The White House

During the meeting President Obama responded on House Speaker John Boehner’s offer to compromise on tax rate increases with his own compromise on both tax increases and spending cuts, CNN reports.

Obama’s latest offer was estimated to bring the both sides billions of dollars closer to an agreement aimed to avert the fiscal cliff, which would cause tax increases on income of all levels and across-the-board spending cuts in the new year.

This weekend’s offer was the first one suggested by the House Speaker and accepted tax rate increases on household income over $1 million, sources said.

The re-elected U.S. president, who had previously insisted on the threshold of $250,000, seemed to have changed his mind as on Monday he offered Boehner a package which would raise rates on household income above $400,000.

Obama also applied a less-generous measure of inflation across the federal government, a move which is predicted to save about $225 billion over the next decade.

The president dropped his previous demand to extend the payroll tax holiday, which has benefited virtually every worker for the past two years, The Washington Post informs.

However, he is still expected to find $80 billion on infrastructure and unemployment benefits and to increase the federal government’s borrowing limit.

Boehner, in his turn, suggested deciding on a one-year debt-limit increase, and the fresh stimulus spending remains a sticking point.

“Any movement away from the unrealistic offers the President has made previously is a step in the right direction, but a proposal that includes $1.3 trillion in revenue for only $930 billion in spending cuts cannot be considered balanced,” Boehner spokesman Michael A. Steel said in a written statement.

“We hope to continue discussions with the President so we can reach an agreement that is truly balanced and begins to solve our spending problem,” he added.

Soon after the president’s latest offer emerged, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that more work needed to be done.

“The president’s proposal is the only proposal that we have seen that achieves the balance that is so necessary” between revenue and cost-cutting, said Carney, who refused to go further.

Congress had been scheduled to end its work last week, but legislators returned to Washington on Monday as they were warned to be ready to stay until Christmas and return after the holiday until year-end.

“It appears at this stage – we’ll see if anything changes – but it appears we’re going to be coming back the day after Christmas to complete work on the fiscal cliff,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Monday.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said a deal would have to be reached by Christmas to allow time for the legislative process to approve the required measure or measures by the end of the year.

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