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Obama Meets With Congressional Leaders About Fiscal Cliff

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President Barack Obama has been hearing the ideas of leaders in the business and civic communities throughout the week leading up to the much-anticipated fiscal cliff meeting with congressional leaders. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.

With just six weeks before the nation's economy is set to plummet off the so-called fiscal cliff - a series of sharp tax hikes and automatic spending cuts - President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders began negotiations Friday to avert the impending crisis.

"I think we're all aware that we have some urgent business to do," Obama said. "We've got to make sure that taxes don't go up on middle-class families, that our economy remains strong."

The House and Senate leaders emerged optimistic after they met behind closed doors for over an hour.

"I believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff," said Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

"I feel very good about what we were able to talk about in there. We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Unlike most past statements made on the fiscal cliff, Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not specifically say they would reject tax hikes on the wealthy.

"I outlined a framework that deals with reforming our tax code and reforming our spending," Boehner said.

Both Boehner and McConnell stressed there will be no agreement without cuts to spending, specifically to entitlements.

"We're prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem, even though most of my members, I think without exception, believe that we're in the dilemma we're in not because we tax too little, but because we spend too much," McConnell said.

The lawmakers offered few details and did not take any questions, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stressed the need for a specific deficit reduction goal and a deadline before Christmas.

"We should show some milestones of success so that confidence can build as we reach our solution," Pelosi said.

The leaders plan to work through the Thanksgiving recess and said they will meet with the president the following week.

"This isn't something we're going to wait to the last day of December to get it done," said Reid.

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