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December 14, 2017
Thursday, December 27, 2012

US lawmakers, Obama in last chance talks on 'fiscal cliff'

US President Barack Obama and lawmakers are launching a last chance round of budget talks just days before a New Year's deadline to reach a deal or watch the economy go off a "fiscal cliff."

Obama will meet congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Friday to try to revive negotiations to avoid tax hikes and spending cuts - together worth $600 billion - that will begin to take effect on Jan.1.

The two political parties remained far apart, particularly over plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest US citizens to help close the budget deficit.

The coming days are likely to see either intense bargaining over numbers, or political theater as each side attempts to avoid blame if a deal looks unlikely. Talks could go down to the wire on New Year's Eve.

"Hopefully, there is still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly, wholly preventable economic crisis," Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Democratic-controlled Senate, said on the Senate floor.

In order to be ready to legislate if an agreement takes shape, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives convened a session for Sunday.

But the rhetoric was still harsh on Thursday after months of wrangling - much of it along ideological lines - over whether to raise taxes and by how much, as well as how to cut back on government spending.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in Congress, accused Republican House Speaker John Boehner of running a "dictatorship" by refusing to allow bills he did not like onto the floor of the chamber.

"It's being operated with a dictatorship of the speaker, not allowing a vast majority of the House of Representatives to get what they want," Reid told the Senate.

Reid urged Republicans in the House to prevent the worst of the fiscal shock by getting behind a Senate bill to extend existing tax cuts for all except those households earning more than $250,000 a year.

Both Reid and Boehner, as well as McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are to meet Obama on Friday at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT). World markets will be watching closely as failure to act by New Year could push the United States into recession.

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Tags:  fiscal cliff  republican  house of representatives  washington  us  cuts  tax increase  





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