President Obama and lawmakers are making progress on a deal to avert going over the so-called "fiscal cliff," the president announced on Dec. 28.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, met with Obama on Dec. 28 for a face-to-face meeting to come up with a deal, Obama said.
The president said the meeting was a "good and constructive discussion" and is "modestly optimistic" a deal can be reached, according to The Huffington Post.
While the president did not issue specifics of the meeting, he said that if a deal cannot be made, he expects the Senate to vote on a bill that would preserve unemployment benefits and assure tax rates on middle-class families would not rise. If accomplished, that bill would then go to the U.S. Representatives for a vote.
If lawmakers and Obama don't make a deal to lower the country's deficit by Dec. 31, previously agreed upon automatic tax hikes and spending cuts would be imposed. That includes letting the tax cuts imposed under President George W. Bush expire, which would impact most Americans. Approximately $1.2 trillion in defense program cuts and other programs are also included in the plan.
The deal currently in the works would include avoiding taxcuts for millions of Americans and protecting unemployment benefits for unemployed workers who would otherwise lose their benefits at the start of 2013, according to the Washington Post. However, both sides are at odds over the structure of the tax cuts. Obama has proposed tax hikes for incomes over $250,000 annually, but Republicans would like to up that figure to $400,000, according to the Post.