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.