Politicians deadlock on agreement to avert fiscal cliff cuts, hikes

Here and Now

The efforts to halt the U.S. government from going over the fiscal cliff is reaching an important phase.

There are just two weeks for Democrats and Republicans to agree on deficit reduction — through acceptable tax increases or spending cuts — to avert billions of dollars in across-the-board tax hikes and budget cuts.

So far, both sides say progress has been hard to identify. That the other side is unwilling to compromise. House Speaker John A. Boehner and President Barack Obama had a face-to-face conversation on Sunday and have exchanged proposals and had telephone conversations in the days since. Boehner says Obama is refusing to identify what spending cuts he would support — or what entitlement reforms he would go along with.

Conversely, Obama and his supporters, according to The New York Times, say they're the only ones willing to compromise at all. Obama has said he'd be willing to accept $1.4 trillion in new revenues, a decline from his previous demand of $1.6 trillion. He also said he's support an overhaul of the corporate tax code, a major priority for Republicans.

Democrats, for their part, say Boehner is dragging out talks. Rep. Chris Van Hollen told the Times that he thought Boehner was delaying in order to avoid giving his opponents from his own party something to use against him in leadership elections in January.

Earlier this year, there had been widespread hope that an agreement could be reached relatively quickly after Thanksgiving. But hopes for such a speedy resolution seem to have lapsed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said don’t expect any deal before Christmas.

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