Hill leaders voice confidence in debt deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders are voicing confidence they can reach a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."

After a closed-door meeting with President Barack Obama today, House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur) declared, "I believe we can do this."

Lawmakers need to reach a deal with the president to avert a series of tax increases and spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

There's optimism from both sides. Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi said, "We understand our responsibility," adding she feels confident that a solution may be in sight.

None of the lawmakers made any mention of the big sticking point -- Obama's insistence that tax rates go up, as scheduled, at the start of the year for individuals making over $200,000 a year and families making over $250,000. Republicans flatly oppose that.

Still, the optimism was reflected on Wall Street. The stock market started lower today but spiked higher shortly before midday following the Congressional leaders' meeting with Obama.

One chief market strategist at a New York-based broker says just getting all sides together is a good start.

%@AP Links

233-a-05-(House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaking to reporters after meeting with President Obama)-"be in sight"-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says she's optimistic that agreement can be reached. (16 Nov 2012)

<<CUT *233 (11/16/12)>> 00:05 "be in sight"

229-a-14-(House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaking to reporters after meeting with President Obama)-"our fiscal dilemma"-House Speaker John Boehner says his outline accepts the idea of higher tax revenue -- but only if there also are meaningful cuts to benefit programs. (16 Nov 2012)

<<CUT *229 (11/16/12)>> 00:14 "our fiscal dilemma"

231-a-10-(Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaking to reporters after meeting with President Obama)-"with each other"-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says both sides know the voters are demanding action. (16 Nov 2012)

<<CUT *231 (11/16/12)>> 00:10 "with each other"

APPHOTO DCJM106: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., second from left, accompanied by, from left, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, following their meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the economy and the deficit. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (16 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO DCJM106 (11/16/12)>>

APPHOTO DCJM104: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, center, followed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., approaches the microphones outside the White House in Washington on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, to speaks to reporters following their meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the economy and the deficit. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (16 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO DCJM104 (11/16/12)>>

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