23 Dec 2012

Next moves in fiscal crisis awaited

9:52 am on 23 December 2012

Democrats and Republicans in Washington are mulling their next move to avert a crisis arising from automatic tax rises and drastic budget cuts in January.

On Friday, President Barack Obama urged legislators to pass a stop-gap bill to avert a fiscal cliff after talks between the White House and House Republicans broke down this week.

Mr Obama said he met Senator Harry Reid and spoke to House Speaker John Boehner on the phone to discuss a fall-back plan, though he stressed he still believed a big compromise was possible.

He called on Congress to next week produce a minimum package that lays the groundwork for further deficit reduction next year.

"Everybody can cool off, everybody can drink some egg nog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols," Mr Obama said.

"Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think that we can get it done," said Mr Obama, who will spend Christmas in Hawaii.

On Thursday, Republicans rejected a bid by Mr Boehner to pass a backup bill to solve the crisis.

Mr Boehner earlier said he remained committed to a grand bargain with President Obama that would reform the US tax code and lower spending.