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Obama: modestly "optimistic" fiscal cliff deal can be reached

Congressional leaders headed into the White House Friday for meetings aimed at averting the fiscal cliff. Afterwards U.S. President Barack Obama expressed optimism that a deal can be reached. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "I just had a good and constructive discussion at the White House with the Senate and House leadership on how to prevent this tax hike on the Middle Class. I am optimistic that we may still reach an agreement that can pass both House in time." On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said the meetings went well. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, SENATOR HARRY REID SAYING: "But, I think it was a very positive meeting. There was not a lot of hilarity in the meeting. Everyone knows how important it is. It was an important meeting and it took a period of time, as you all know, waiting for us." These views were echoed by Minority leader Mitch McConnell. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATE MINORITY LEADER, SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL SAYING: "I share the view of the Majority leader. We had a good meeting down at the White House. We are engaged in discussions the Majority Leader, myself and the White House in the hopes that we can come forward as early as Sunday and have a recommendation that I can make to my conference and the Majority Leader can make to his conference and so we'll be working hard to try to see if we can get there in the next twenty four hours and so I am hopeful and optimistic." Without a deal $600 billion in tax hikes and federal spending cuts will begin to take effect January 1st.

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