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Senate Leaders Work On Last-Minute Fiscal Cliff Deal

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Senate leaders are working on a last-minute deal to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.

Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are working on a bill to avoid middle-class tax hikes, extend unemployment benefits and delay spending cuts.

After a meeting both sides called constructive, President Barack Obama said he wants a simple up or down vote on the basic package to protect Americans if no long-term deal can be reached.

In his weekly address, the president pointed to problems in Washington for slowing economic growth.

"We just can’t afford a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy," Obama said. "The economy is growing, but keeping it that way means that the folks you sent to Washington have to do their jobs. The housing market is healing, but that could stall if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008, but already, families and businesses are starting to hold back because of the dysfunction they see in Washington."

In their weekly address, Republicans blamed the president and Democrats for pushing the country so close to the fiscal cliff, saying they aren't willing to compromise.

"Instead of working across the aisle and considering the House-passed plan to protect taxpayers, Senate Democrats have spent months drawing partisan lines in the sand," said Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. "The president's proposal to raise taxes on the top 2 percent of Americans won't even pay one-third of the annual interest that's now owed on this massive $16 trillion debt. In fact, the president's tax hike would only fund the government for 8 days."

Blunt praised the plan from the Republican-led House that he said requires more targeted spending cuts.

The Senate could vote on a plan as early as Sunday. The House is being called to Washington in the event a vote is needed.

The deadline for avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff is December 31.

Without a deal, a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will take effect in the new year. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP