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Fiscal cliff: Obama, Boehner speak frankly (+video)

As the battle over the United States' 'fiscal cliff' continues, President Obama and Representative Boehner spoke directly at the White House on Thursday. 

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Face to face with time running short, President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner negotiated at the White House on Thursday night in what aides called "frank" talks aimed at breaking a stubborn deadlock and steering the nation away from an economy-threatening "fiscal cliff."

There was no sign of movement, as evidence mounted that the White House was moving away from politically difficult cuts like increasing the Medicare eligibility age. But some Republicans, especially in the Senate, advocated yielding to Obama on tax rates on the wealthy but continuing the battle on other fronts.

An increasing number of Senate Republicans have been pressing to yield on the question of allowing top tax rates to increase on income over $250,000 for couples, while extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone else. That reflects increasing resignation within the GOP that Obama is going to prevail on the rate issue since the alternative is to allow taxes on all workers to go way up when Bush-era tax cuts expire on Dec. 31.

"I think it's time to end the debate on rates," Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said. "It's exactly what both parties are for. We're for extending the middle-class rates. We can debate the upper-end rates and what they are when we get into tax reform."

"He's got a full house and we're trying to draw an inside straight," Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said. When it was observed that making a straight would still be a losing hand, Isakson said: "Yeah, I know."

No details were released about the Obama-Boehner meeting, though the use of the word "frank" by both sides to describe the talks suggested the president and the speaker stuck hard to their opposing positions.

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