WASHINGTON (AP) — When congressional leaders gather at the White House this afternoon, they'll be hearing a limited proposal from President Barack Obama aimed at avoiding the tax increases and deep spending cuts that are slated to take effect next week.
Lawmakers and White House officials are holding out a slim hope for a deal, but it's not clear whether congressional passage of legislation that both sides can accept is even possible.
Today's meeting -- the first since mid-November -- is expected to center on which income thresholds would face higher tax rates. There will likely be talk about extending unemployment insurance, and preventing a cut in Medicare payments to doctors.
Despite early talk of a grand bargain that would reduce deficits by more than $2 trillion, the expectations now are far less ambitious.
Republicans and Democrats say any agreement will likely include an extension of middle-class tax cuts with increased rates at upper incomes. The deal would likely put off the scheduled spending cuts.
136-w-35-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP correspondent, with Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn.)--President Obama is gathering top lawmakers at the White House this afternoon with the fiscal cliff just a few days away. AP correspondent Sagar Meghani reports. (28 Dec 2012)
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121-a-10-(Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in interview)-"the Senate Floor"-Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee says today's White House meeting is a charade. COURTESY: CBS 'This Morning' (mandatory on-air credit) (28 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *121 (12/28/12)>> 00:10 "the Senate Floor"
127-a-04-(Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in interview)-"they could be"-Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says he's optimstic about reaching a compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff. COURTESY: NBC's 'Today' show (mandatory on-air credit) (28 Dec 2012)
<<CUT *127 (12/28/12)>> 00:04 "they could be"
GRAPHICSBANK: Barack Obama, as US President, salutes after returning early from vacation, Washington, DC, graphic element on gray (27 Dec 2012)
APPHOTO DCSW101: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. is pursued by reporters as he walks to a Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (28 Dec 2012)
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