Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama, Boehner Meet on Deal Parley over 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations Their First since Election Day

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama, Boehner Meet on Deal Parley over 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations Their First since Election Day

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met Sunday at the White House to discuss the ongoing negotiations over the impending "fiscal cliff," the first meeting between just the two leaders since Election Day.

Spokesmen for both Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner, R-Ohio, said they agreed to not release details of the conversation, but emphasized that the lines of communication remain open.

The meeting comes as the White House and Congress try to break an impasse over finding a way to stop a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to kick in at the beginning of next year.

Mr. Obama met in November with Mr. Boehner, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The president spoke by telephone with Mr. Reid and in person with Ms. Pelosi on Friday. The president is traveling to Redford, Mich., today to promote his agenda in a speech to workers at an engine factory.

Mr. Obama has been pushing higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as one way to reduce the deficit -- a position that Mr. Boehner and other House Republicans have been steadfastly against. Republicans are demanding steeper cuts in costly government entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

One GOP senator said Sunday that Senate Republicans would probably agree to higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans if it meant getting a chance to overhaul entitlement programs.

The comments by Bob Corker of Tennessee -- a fiscal conservative who has been gaining stature in the Senate as a pragmatic deal broker -- puts new pressure on Mr. Boehner and other Republican leaders to rethink their long-held assertion that even the very rich shouldn't see their rates go up next year. GOP leaders have argued that the revenue gained by hiking the top two tax rates would be trivial to the deficit, and that any tax hike hurts job creation.

But Mr. Corker said insisting on that red line -- especially since Mr. …

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