Congressional Leaders Optimistic About Averting `Fiscal Cliff’

House Speaker John Boehner addresses the media outside the White House on Nov. 16, 2012, following a meeting with President Barack Obama. Photograph by Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Updated with White House comments at 12:50 pm EST:

Congressional leaders emerged from talks with President Barack Obama at the White House this morning voicing confidence in solving the budgetary and tax questions needed to avert a “fiscal cliff” before year’s end.

“We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in the driveway outside the West Wing, joining House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio in calling the talks productive. Reid said: “We both are going to have to give up something.”

For the Republicans, that means a concession on taxes. For the Democrats, that means cuts in entitlement spending.

“We feel very comfortable with each other, and this isn’t something we’re going to wait until the last day of December to get it done,” Reid said, offering some hope of not taking the talks to the brink of the Dec. 31 deadline when automatic spending cuts kick in and when Bush-era tax cuts expire.

“It was a very constructive meeting,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said. “Every person in America knows that we must reach agreement.”

They must have a goal of deficit reduction, she said, and “we understand that it has to be about cuts, it has to be about revenue, it has to be about growth… It was good. I feel confident that a solution may be in sight.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, highlighting the need for addressing entitlement spending to cope with the nation’s changing demographics, said: “We’re prepared to put revenue on the table provided we solve the real problem.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued this statement about the meeting that ran over an hour: “ The president and the leadership had a constructive meeting and agreed to do everything possible to find a solution that averts the so-called `fiscal cliff,’ and to work together to find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit that includes both revenues and cuts in spending and encourages our long-term economic and job growth.”

“Both sides agreed that while there may be differences in our preferred approaches,” Carney said, “we will continue a constructive process to find a solution and come to a conclusion as soon as possible. ”


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