Early fiscal cliff talks show possible path to deal
While the congressional leaders and the president had spoken individually in the past week in public statements about a construct for going forward, Friday's session marked the first time they sat in a room together and struck a similar chord.
An agreement to discuss tax and entitlement reform, most pressingly Medicare, the health program for the elderly, would not be sufficient to solve the more immediate problem of averting the fiscal cliff, the broad tax increases and spending cuts set to start in January.
But a promise for the future is seen as necessary to convince members to compromise in the here and now, probably by replacing the relatively extreme fiscal cliff measures with less harmful deficit-reduction steps.
The development came during the first meeting between Obama and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders since the election. Attending were the president, Boehner, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Following the hour-long White House meeting, Boehner said at he had outlined a framework that deals with reforming our tax code and reforming our spending. A Boehner aide, who asked not to be identified, said later the spending cuts would cover entitlements - the large federal benefit programs that include Medicare healthcare
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