Obama, Boehner try to hammer out fiscal cliff deal

Obama, Boehner try to hammer out fiscal cliff deal

US President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met privately Thursday at the White House as both sides sought to hammer out a deal to avert the looming fiscal cliff, dpa reported.

The White House and opposition Republicans blamed each other for the lack of agreement, with the administration pointing to Republican refusal to raise taxes on the highest earners, while conservative lawmakers accused Obama of failing to address government spending.

"Unfortunately, the White House is so unserious about cutting spending that it appears willing to slow-walk any agreement and walk our economy right up to the fiscal cliff," Boehner said earlier Thursday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has not addressed where negotiations stand but continues to insist that in-person meetings were not the only way to make progress.

"The president has a plan. The president has been very specific. He understands that he will not get everything in his plan," Carney said. "He is prepared to negotiate. But it is not a tenable position to say that the tax cuts for the wealthy should be made permanent. It's not going to happen. The president has made that clear."

Republican lawmakers laid out a counter proposal Tuesday to an offer made by Obama in a bid to reach agreement on averting the budget cuts and tax increases that take effect in January. Both sides hope to replace the planned measures with less severe cuts, but are stalled over tax increases for the wealthy and how much to cut government entitlement programmes.

Obama and Boehner last met face-to-face on Sunday.

The combined federal budget cuts and tax increases are projected to take a bite of more than 600 billion dollars out of the economy in 2013 alone, which could throw the United States back into recession.

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