Obama and Boehner meeting today

President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner are scheduled to meet at the White House Thursday afternoon in hopes of reviving stalled talks over the year-end "fiscal cliff."

A White House official and senior Republican aides confirmed the meeting, which was set to begin around 5 p.m. It marks the second time Boehner (R-Ohio) has visited the White House this week. The first meeting came Sunday, when the two men appeared to make progress toward resolving a dispute over raising taxes on the wealthy.

That progress evaporated as the week wore on, however. Republicans say Obama initially dropped his demand for higher taxes from $1.6 trillion over the next decade to $1.2 trillion, but his top aides later jacked the number back up to $1.4 trillion -- a figure House Republicans viewed as a step backward. Boehner responded by submitted his original offer of $800 billion in new taxes over the next decade, and the two men spoke by phone on Tuesday in a conversation people in both parties described as "tense."

On Thursday, Obama's top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, told Senate Democrats during a closed-door luncheon meeting that talks have since made little headway. Top Republicans confirmed that hope for a far-reaching deal is growing increasingly dim.

Unless Congress acts, more than $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will take effect in January, potentially throwing the nation back into recession.

Lori Montgomery covers U.S. economic policy and the federal budget, focusing on efforts to tame the national debt.
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