Fiscal Cliff Agreement Said To Be Within Reach As Obama Meets With Senators

A deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff is said to be within sight as lawmakers in Washington meet to avoid a series of drastic automatic cuts that would take effect in 2013.

President Obama had been meeting with Senate leaders on Friday, and the two sides appeared to be on the verge of an agreement that would let taxes rise on the wealthiest households while protecting most Americans from historic tax rates that would take effect in January.

From the Washington Post:

“The development marked a breakthrough after weeks of paralysis. After meeting with Obama at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said they would work through the weekend in hopes of drafting a “fiscal cliff” package they could present to their colleagues on Sunday afternoon.

The ultimate fiscal cliff FAQ

“As the Senate began haggling over critical details, the emerging deal faced an uncertain fate in the House, where Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) failed just one week ago to persuade his adamantly anti-tax caucus to let taxes rise even for millionaires.”

News that a fiscal cliff deal could be forthcoming was a bit of a surprise, as both Republicans and Democrats appeared dug in. Just a few days ago Reid blasted Boehner and House Republicans, calling the party irresponsible and the Congress they lead ineffective.

Even Obama said on Friday that he was “modestly optimistic,” which seemed to be hedged a bit from previous statements.

The deal to avert the fiscal cliff was important especially for Republicans. A Gallup found that Americans support President Obama in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations by a margin of 2-to-1, meaning that Republicans stood to take the brunt of the blame if a deal were not reached.