Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on November 25, 2012 @ 8:02PM
Created on November 25, 2012 @ 6:53PM
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) - The White House and a lame-duck Congress have only weeks to hammer out a deal to avoid the dreaded so-called "fiscal cliff".
After meeting with President Obama before the Thanksgiving holiday... "I want to welcome the Congressional leadership here," said President Obama. Congressional leaders expressed optimism about reaching a deal to avoid $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect next year.
"We had a very constructive meeting with the President to talk about America's fiscal problem," said Rep. John Boehner, (R) House Speaker.
"We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out," said Sen. Harry Reid, (D) Majority Leader.
Staffers have been working behind the scenes to find common ground. Among the big sticking points, how to bring in more tax revenue and reduce spending on programs like Medicare. But it's not yet clear when lawmakers and the President will meet next. Even if some progress is made this week, a final deal could still be a long way off.
"We rarely see the Hill and the White House make decisions early. They tend to do better when they have a deadline. So, I would be pleasantly surprised to see a deal emerge earlier than the end of the year but we'll see," said Jennifer Liberto, CNNMoney.com Senior Writer.
Unless a compromise is reached, tax hikes and steep spending cuts will take effect at the beginning of next year.
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