Congressional leaders strike positive tone after White House meeting on the “fiscal cliff”

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to discuss the fiscal cliff and a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 16, 2012. Participants included: House Speaker John Boehner at left, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at right, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Congressional leaders expressed optimism that an agreement can be reached to avert the fiscal cliff following their first meeting with President Barack Obama since the election.

Read more: Transcript: President Obama’s remarks before meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss the fiscal cliff

“We had a very constructive meeting with the President to talk about America’s fiscal problem,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner. “I believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff that’s right in front of us today.”

Echoing Boehner’s optimistic tone, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed confidence that a deficit reduction deal could be reached before the end of the year.

Reid said that talks will continue among lawmakers during the Thanksgiving recess and that they will re-group with the President by the end of the month.

“We have a plan. We’re going to move forward on it,” Reid said. “We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out. We’re both going to have to give up some of the things that we know are a problem…We feel very comfortable with each other, and this isn’t something that we’re going to wait until the last day of December to get it done.”

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to discuss the fiscal cliff and a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 16, 2012. Participants included: House Speaker John Boehner at left, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at right, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Without going into details, Boehner said he has outlined a tax reform and spending cut plan during the meeting that he felt was “consistent with the President’s call for a fair and balanced approach.”

“To show our seriousness, we’ve put revenue on the table as long as it’s accompanied by significant spending cuts,” said Boehner.

However, it’s unclear whether the tax reforms Boehner proposed would involve rate increases for the top two income brackets – which Republicans have long resisted – or involve eliminating tax deductions and tax preferences that would raise the tax burden on middle-income Americans.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s willing to put revenue on the table but stressed that the focus should be on reforming entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare to “fit the demographics of the changing America in the coming years.” America’s aging population is driving up spending for these programs.

“We’re prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem,” said McConnell. 

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urged lawmakers to reach a deficit deal by Christmas to “send a message of confidence to consumers, to the market in the short-run.”

“As we cut investments and as we talked about revenue, we have to do so in a way that promotes growth and supports the future,” said Pelosi. “It was good. I feel confident that a solution may be in sight.”
 

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One Comment on “Congressional leaders strike positive tone after White House meeting on the “fiscal cliff”

  1. Pingback: Simpson-Bowles says probability of reaching 'fiscal cliff' deal before Dec. 31st is low | What The Folly?!

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