U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to return to Washington later today to resume consultations with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders on a scaled-back deficit reduction package before the year ends.
Early last week, the president said he and Boehner were relatively close to an agreement on a compromise to avert what is being called a fiscal cliff, $500 billion in mandated spending cuts and tax increases that would affect almost all American workers starting Jan. 1. But by the end of last week, those efforts were in disarray as lawmakers fled Washington for their Christmas holiday break.
Obama and his family also left town for the Pacific state of Hawaii for what would normally be an extended vacation. But this year, Obama will return early for the fiscal talks.
The holiday recess began shortly after House Republicans abandoned an attempt to pass a Boehner compromise proposal that would have raised taxes for millionaires while keeping tax cuts for everyone else. Obama wants the tax break extended only up to the $400,000 level.