Obama, Romney to 'work together'
US President Barack Obama plans a private lunch tomorrow with his election opponent Mitt Romney, amid a face-off with congressional Republicans over taxes and spending and how to cut the deficit.
The White House announced the meeting today, the same day Obama holds an event with a group of middle-income Americans and talks with 14 company chief executives as he presses his case to extend reduced rates for most taxpayers while letting them rise for top earners.
In his victory speech after winning a second term in a close election, Obama said he looked forward to sitting down with Romney, a Republican, to discuss how can work together.
The White House said in a statement that tomorrow's lunch will be their first opportunity to do so since the November 6th election.
The president and Congress are negotiating the terms of deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, the $607 billion automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to kick in on January 1st.
The Congressional Budget Office has said that failure to reach an agreement may push the economy into a recession next year and boost the unemployment rate to 9.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with 7.9 per cent now.
Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of Obama's 2010 fiscal commission, said today that it's unlikely the president and Congress will reach a deal by the end of this year.
Standard and Poor's 500 Index fell for a third day, with commodity, technology and financial shares leading losses in all 10 of the main industry groups.
Obama is pressuring Congress to let Bush-era tax cuts expire for wealthy households earning more than $250,000 a year and preserving tax breaks for families earning less than $250,000.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is leading talks for the White House.
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, planned to meet separately today with top corporate leaders, including Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Even with a flurry of public events, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said yesterday "there's been little progress" in negotiations with Republicans.
He said Republicans have backed away from earlier openness to considering new tax revenue as part of a year-end deal to avert the cliff.