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TheStreet Open House

Fiscal Cliff Talks Appear To Be Stalled

Leading lawmakers expressed pessimism that a deal was close, despite increasing angst about a Dec. 31 deadline to stop the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and separate across-the-board spending cuts that are the result of Washington's failure to complete a deficit-reduction deal last year.

"I think it's getting worse, not better," House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said.

Obama met Wednesday with nine mayors from around the country and spoke to more on a conference call about the fiscal cliff. Following the meeting, the mayors said it was important for Congress to come to agreement with the White House on a "balanced approach."

Columbus, Ohio, Mayor Michael Coleman said he did not "detect frustration" in Obama during the meeting. "But I can tell you that we're frustrated, and I think America is becoming frustrated. I think those in Ohio are becoming frustrated and those in Columbus are becoming frustrated because it seems this can be done, that we can forge an agreement with Congress that will result in tax cuts for the middle class."

The Boehner camp again said it's up to the White House to proffer additional spending cuts to programs like Medicare. The White House countered that Republicans still need to cave on raising tax rates for the rich.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, warned Republicans against insisting on raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of any deal.

"One of the things that we object to is raising the Medicare age," Pelosi said on "CBS This Morning." ''Don't go there."

Pelosi said raising the retirement age wouldn't contribute much savings toward an agreement, adding "Is it just a trophy that the Republicans want to take home?"

Raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67 could cut Medicare costs by $162 billion over a decade, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate last year. But by 2035, it would cut Medicare's projected budget by 7 percent.

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