News / USA

Congressional Leaders Optimistic About Fiscal Talks

From left: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell outside the White House, Nov. 16, 2012.
From left: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell outside the White House, Nov. 16, 2012.
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders voiced optimism after White House talks Friday with  President about chances for an agreement to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" facing the United States.  The White House called the talks constructive.  

Emerging after just over an hour of talks with the president, House and Senate leaders assessed the meeting positively.

The House Speaker, Republican Congressman John Boehner, said he presented a "framework" that he believes is consistent with Obama's goal of achieving a balanced deficit-reduction agreement.

Boehner and others confirmed that the contentious issue of new revenue to pay for deficit reduction is now on the table in negotiations, but the Ohio congressman stressed the critical importance of identifying spending reductions.

"While we're going to continue to have revenue on the table, it is going to be incumbent on my colleagues to show the American people that we are serious about cutting spending and solving our fiscal dilemma," said Boehner.

The Senate majority leader, Democrat Harry Reid, also sounded an optimistic tone, saying all at the table with Obama realize that postponing an agreement is not an option.

"We all know something has be done. There is no more 'let's do it some other time.' We're going to do it now, we feel very comfortable with each other, and this is not something we are going to wait until the last day of December to get it done," said Reid.

Obama opened the meeting with a call for bipartisan cooperation.
 
"Our challenge is to make sure we are able to cooperate together, work together, [find] some common ground, make some tough compromises, build some consensus to do the  people's business.  And what the folks are looking for, and I think all of us agree on this, is action.  They want to see that we are focused on them, not focused on our politics here in Washington," said President Obama.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she feels confident about reaching an agreement, and hopes the risk of another economic downturn can be averted.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell reiterated a call to bring down spending on entitlement programs, saying a solution requires fixing "the real problem."

The so-called "fiscal cliff" refers to about $600 billion in combined tax increases and spending cuts taking effect January 1st if there is no agreement by Congress and the president.

Tax rises and deep budget cuts would take place automatically, under terms of a legally binding bipartisan agreement in 2011 that put off the deadline for debt reduction until 2013.
 
Before the talks, the White House said the president's opening position would be a proposal to generate a combined $1.6 trillion in new revenue for the government over the next decade.  
 
With added political clout from his election victory, Obama has refused any deficit deal that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for the top two percent of income earners.
 
But he has also signaled flexibility, saying he remains open to steps that would bring further savings from huge government entitlement programs.
 
Republicans have generally resisted raising taxes on the wealthy, but are under pressure to moderate the obstructionism they demonstrated in the president's first term.  
 
Speaker Boehner said the framework he put forward in Friday's meeting is aimed at reforming the tax code.  But specifics of this remain unclear.

The calendar for progress is tight, with members of Congress about to return to their home districts for the annual Thanksgiving holiday recess.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid