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Obama, Boehner meet again over "fiscal cliff"
[December 17, 2012]

Obama, Boehner meet again over "fiscal cliff"

WASHINGTON, Dec 17, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House on Monday after the top Republican made compromise on tax-rate increase over the weekend, raising hopes that they would inch closer toward a deal.

The 45-minute meeting was a sign of acceleration in negotiations that seek to avert the year-end spending cuts and tax increases known as the "fiscal cliff." They have periodically met face-to-face and talked over the phone recently as aides of both sides worked to piece together an agreement.

"The lines of communication remain open, but there is no agreement, nor is one imminent," said Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel.

"The President's proposal is the only proposal that we have seen that achieves the balance that is so necessary," the White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a news conference, but refused to comment on specifics.

As a step to break the budget impasse, Boehner offered Obama a plan over the weekend, which includes letting tax rates rise for those who make over 1 million U.S. dollars a year, contingent upon entitlement spending cuts.

Boehner's latest proposal calls for 1 trillion dollars in new tax revenue, more than the 800 billion dollars fresh tax revenue he initially offered.

Obama has insisted on allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire on those earning over 250,000 dollars a year. As a gesture to narrow the gap between two sides, he scaled back his initial demand on tax revenue increase from 1.6 trillion dollars to 1.4 trillion dollars last week and signaled willingness to reform entitlement programs.

"Any potential agreement would not only have to align with the president's principles, it would require tough choices by both sides," Carney said.

Economists predict the over-600-billion-dollar combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, which are set to take effect next year, would tip the country into recession if the Congress fails to reach a deal.

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