So how did the last-ditch fiscal cliff meeting go this afternoon? Not great. President Obama again put forth the scaled-back version of the proposal he pitched last week.
A source familiar with the meeting told CNBC that Obama was not making a new offer; just laying out what he thinks can pass the House and Senate. That includes keeping the tax cut for those making up to $250,000 and an extension of unemployment insurance for 2 million people. He will then ask the participants what they are willing to support, and if they don’t have a counterproposal that can pass the House and the Senate he will ask for an up or down vote.
President Obama held a brief press conference after the talks, calling the meeting “good and constructive” and that he’s “modestly optimistic” that an agreement may still be able to be reached in time. One of the points he highlighted during the presser was that he’ll let Sens. Reid and McConnell try to reach a deal on the income threshold for tax hikes but if they don’t reach an agreement, the president said he will “urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up or down vote – one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to 2 million Americans looking for a job and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction.”
Senate leaders are in last-minute bipartisan ‘cliff’ talks with the White House this evening.