Little Progress in ‘Cliff’ Talks – S&P500 below 1,400, Asian Indices open lower

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that “fiscal cliff” talks have made “little progress,” sending stock prices down, while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell ripped into President Barack Obama for planning to hit the road to promote his tax agenda.

Reid said he was disappointed that little progress had been made in the debt talks.

“They talked some happy talk about doing revenues, but we only have a couple weeks to get something done,” Reid said about Democrats’ negotiations with Republicans. “So we have to get away from the happy talk and start talking about specific things.”

Despite his tone of frustration, Reid also said he is optimistic that lawmakers ultimately will reach a deal to head off the Jan. 1 convergence of $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that threatens to trigger another recession.

“I’m extremely hopeful, and I do not believe that the Republicans are going to allow us to go over the cliff,” Reid said.

He said he hoped Republicans can agree to tax rate increases and that Democrats were happy to deal with entitlements.

Earlier, Dick Durbin, a senior Senate Democrat and close Obama ally, urged fellow liberals to consider reforming the costly Medicare and Medicaid health care programs, signaling possible Democratic compromise in an area where they have steadfastly resisted change.

On the Senate floor, McConnell blasted Obama. “Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he’s back out on the campaign trail,” the Kentucky Republican said.

“We already know the president is a very good campaigner. What we don’t know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement.”

Obama was set to hold meetings with business leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday and then travel to a factory in Pennsylvania on Friday to press his case on taxes.

Via – CNBC

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