President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have begun stepping up negotiations on avoiding the "fiscal cliff," a series of deep spending cuts and expiring tax breaks that start taking effect in January. The White House and Boehner's office held more negotiations on Monday to follow up on a meeting between Obama and Boehner over the weekend, even as Obama prepared to make a fresh pitch to American workers on Tuesday for his proposal to reduce the deficit — and avoid the fiscal cliff — with the help of tax hikes on the rich. People close to the talks say they have progressed over recent days, albeit slowly. Republicans appear resigned to accepting tax hikes and Democrats to swallowing reductions in Medicare spending in exchange — the haggling is over the details.
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