President, Republicans still at odds as fiscal cliff approaches

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November 27, 2012, 5:22 pm
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(NECN/NBC:  Steve Handelsman, Washington) –  With the fiscal cliff closer, President  Obama, later this week, heads out to campaign for tax hikes on the rich. Republicans, to put it mildly, don't like that.

There's a lot more to negotiate that just taxes.  Spending cuts.  Medicare reform.  But with everyone's taxes set to rise after the new year, that is the biggest issue.

Business leaders came to the White House to urge a deal to avoid the cliff.

Across the board tax hikes could kill their profits and the recovery.

President Obama has negotiated by phone with top Republicans, but, to push tax hikes on the rich, he flies Friday to Philadelphia to take his case to the public.

That’s irritating GOP leaders.

"Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he's back on the campaign trail," said Sen. Mitch McConnell  (R) , the minority leader.

On Nov. 6, the President won proof that the nation wants a tax hike on the rich.

Says the White House:

"The election was pretty conclusive about which path a majority of the American people want to take," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Democrats could get what they want .  The rich paying more than their current 35 percent? And republicans could get what they want.  No return to old top rate of almost 40%

"Current law has on January 1, the top rate going to 39.6. So, they raise it only to 37, that's a tax cut from current law. Republicans can brag about that. Democrats can say they got higher tax rates on the rich," said CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood.

But spending cuts, and Medicare reform have to be part of any deal to avoid the cliff. Republicans insist. And the #2 Democrat in the senate says.

His side has to agree.

"We need the same willingness to step forward on the LEFT," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois.

"Put EVERYTHING on the table. Repeat: EVERYTHING on the table."

Five weeks to go. No deal yet.

It looks to some like both sides are just killing time now, until the deadline is just days away, and the pressure gets more intense. But the White House today denied that.

Tags: congress, President Obama, economy, recession, Mitch McConnell, tax hikes, Fiscal cliff, recovery
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