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WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House on Monday in hopes of continuing to make progress on a plan to deal with the "fiscal cliff."
The meeting came after Boehner on Friday offered $1 trillion in higher tax revenue over 10 years and an increase in the top tax rate on people making more than $1 million a year. The House speaker is also offering a large enough extension in the government's borrowing cap to fund the government for one year before the issue must be revisited â¿¿ conditioned on President Barack Obama's agreeing to the $1 trillion in cuts.
More progress was made in staff negotiations over the weekend. The two negotiators are running out of time if they hope to make an agreement and get it passed through Congress before the cliff strikes at the beginning of January when an economically toxic mix of huge tax increases and slashing cuts to the Pentagon and other federal agencies begins to take effect Jan. 1.
"The president and the speaker are meeting at the White House to continue their discussions about the fiscal cliff and balanced deficit reduction," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. The two met for about 45 minutes, officials said.
Given the pressing timetable, the two men are hoping to set the broad parameters of an agreement while taking care of urgent business like extending tax cuts for most earners, preventing sharp cuts in Medicare physician payments, and making sure millions of taxpayers don't get struck by the alternative minimum tax.
The idea is that other steps, like overhauling the tax code and additional cuts to popular programs like Medicare would take more time and be fleshed out next year.
Obama is also pushing extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and wants an extension of the two percentage point payroll tax cut or something like it.