Movement Seen in 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks

House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama can both claim electoral mandates to support their positions on taxes.
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Obama and Boehner met Thursday in a session described as "frank" by both sides. Boehner's offer and a follow-up phone call came the next day, amid increasing speculation that Republicans might move on to a plan B in which they would give Obama a win on tax rates for upper-bracket earners and renew the fight when increasing the government's borrowing cap — which needs to be done soon, probably in February.

[READ: Forget January: The 'Fiscal Cliff' Will Get Scary in February]

Boehner's $1 trillion cut proposal would be paired with a comparable increase in the borrowing cap, enough to keep the government borrowing for about a year. But if the cuts are smaller, the debt limit increase would be smaller as well.

"Our position has not changed. Any debt limit increase would require cuts and reforms of a greater amount," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.

But Boehner is showing flexibility on how quickly to implement any increase in the Medicare eligibility age, recognizing the Democratic opposition to the idea. Republicans have been cautious on that front as well; they have regularly exempted those close to retirement age from their Medicare cuts.

Obama originally sought $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over a decade and has since revised that to $1.4 trillion. He would probably go lower, a decision fueled in part by resistance from Democratic allies in the Senate to Obama proposals like taxing capital gains and income at rates equal to earned income.

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