Updated 11/16/2012 04:55 PM
Fiscal cliff talks
President Obama met with Congressional leaders to discuss the so-called fiscal cliff. Spending cuts and tax hikes will take effect January 1st if lawmakers fail to reach a deal. Here with more on the meeting is YNN’s Erin Billups.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With just six weeks before the nation's economy is set to plummet off the so-called fiscal cliff, a series of sharp tax hikes and automatic spending cuts, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Congressional leaders began negotiations Friday to avert the impending crisis.
"I think we're all aware that we have some urgent business to do. We've got to make sure that taxes don't go up on middle class families, that our economy remains strong," said President Obama.
After meeting behind closed doors for over an hour, the House and Senate leaders emerged optimistic.
"I believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff," said House Speaker John Boehner.
"I feel very good about what we were able to talk about in there. We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
And unlike with most other past statements made on the fiscal cliff, Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not specifically say they would reject tax hikes on the wealthy.
"I outlined a framework that deals with reforming our tax code and reforming our spending," said Boehner.
Both Boehner and McConnell stressed there will be no agreement without cuts to spending. Specifically to entitlements.
"We're prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem. Even though most of my members, I think without exception, believe that we're in the dilemma we're in not because we tax too little, but because we spend too much," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The lawmakers offered few details and did not take any questions, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did stress the need for a specific deficit reduction goal and a deadline before Christmas.
"We should show some milestones of success so that confidence can build as we reach our solution," said Pelosi.
The leaders plan to work through the Thanksgiving recess and say they will meet with the president the following week.
“This isn't something we're going to wait to the last day of December to get it done," said Reid.