While the two sides remain far apart, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that budget negotiations between the White House and Republican House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have progressed steadily in recent days.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal said the discussions about how to avoid the looming fiscal cliff have taken a marked shift, becoming more "serious."
Both sides of the negotiations have agreed to keep details of talks private, the paper said, noting that the people declined to detail where new ground was being broken.
The report from the Journal comes amid indications that President Barack Obama struck a more conciliatory tone in remarks about the fiscal cliff at a Daimler plant in Michigan on Monday.
"I've said I will work with Republicans on a plan for economic growth, job creation, and reducing our deficits," Obama said. "I understand people have a lot of different views. I'm willing to compromise a little bit."
While Obama also continued to call on Congress to extend the tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income, he did not accuse Republicans of holding the middle class "hostage," as he has in past speeches.
The reported progress on talks between Obama and Boehner also comes as a number of Republicans have indicated they would be willing to accept higher tax rates on wealthy Americans in exchange for significant spending cuts and reform to entitlement programs.
Boehner has thus far remained staunchly opposed to raising tax rates on the wealthy, instead calling for increasing revenues by closing tax loopholes and capping deductions.
However, as the deadline to avoid the fiscal cliff approaches, political analysts have noted that Boehner could be forced to give up some ground on the issue of taxes.
Without action by Congress, approximately $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts are due to go into effect at the end of the year.
Recent reports have suggested that Republicans may allow the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire only to tie future budget negotiations to an upcoming debate over the debt ceiling.
by RTT Staff Writer
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