President Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met Monday to discuss deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff, a White House official said.
"The president and Speaker Boehner are meeting at the White House to continue their discussions about the fiscal cliff and balanced deficit reduction," a pool report about the meeting indicated.
The country faces a Dec. 31 deadline for lawmakers and the White House to strike a deal to avert a draconian combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, colloquially known as the fiscal cliff.
The meeting came after Boehner proffered a proposal that would call for $1 trillion in new tax revenue -- including increasing tax rates on income greater than $1 million -- and $1 trillion in spending cuts that would include entitlement program reform.
Obama has insisted on higher tax rates on incomes above $250,000 and wants a deal that addresses the $16.4 trillion debt limit.
The White House rejected Boehner's offer, saying it would raise too little money to make a big enough dent in the budget deficit, a Democrat familiar with the talks told The Washington Post. The plan also was rejected because it didn't mention an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.
Despite the rejection, Boehner's offer was seen as a breakthrough, the Democrat said.
The New York Times said both sides expressed new optimism Sunday a deal could be reached this week to avert $500 billion to $600 billion in automatic tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect at the end of the year.
Boehner's offer suggests he expects a big deal with the White House that would produce enough savings to meet his demand that any debt-limit increase be coupled dollar for dollar with spending cuts, the Post said.
The Times said Boehner told Obama Friday he could also accept a deal that would raise $1 trillion in new revenues over 10 years, up from his earlier proposed $800 billion, if Obama committed to significant savings from benefit programs like Medicare.
"Our position has not changed," Boehner's office said in a statement. "Any debt limit increase would require cuts and reforms of a greater amount."
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