Fiscal Cliff Latest: More Talking, Worry

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Talks were to continue this weekend between the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate, as they try to strike a last minute deal to avert a trip over the fiscal cliff.

The leader of the Democratic majority, Senator Harry Reid, and Republican leader Mitch McConnell were expected to negotiate Saturday with a goal of bringing an agreement to their respective parties on Sunday.

If the Senate and House do not agree to a solution by the end of Monday, a variety of tax increases and spending cuts will kick in, potentially throwing the economy back into recession.

President Obama met with Reid, McConnell and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House for an hour Friday afternoon.

"I'm optimistic we may be able to reach an agreement both houses can pass in time," the President said after the meeting.

However, if no agreement is reached President Obama said he's asking Reid to put his (Obama's) plan to cut taxes for most people up for a vote anyway.

Such a move would be "daring Republicans in the House and Senate to block a floor vote on tax cuts," the New York Times reported.

Local, State Reaction

A top New York Democrat said Friday he believes "odds are better than people think" that a deal can be reached to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts next week.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer told NBC's "Today" show he's encouraged that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is getting "actively engaged" in talks to resolve the problem.
   
North country Congressman Bill Owens remained skeptical about the prospects for a deal Friday, though he acknowleged talks among President Obama and the leaders of the House and Senate could change things. Owens said he would be back in Washington Sunday.

Owens said failure to reach a deal would mean ""dramatic impacts on school districts, Fort Drum, farmers, the border activities we all depend on."

Local businesses and community groups are beginning to consider how the fiscal cliff could affect them.

Peter Schmidt, the head of the Watertown YMCA, said that if the fiscal cliff happens and paychecks get smaller "We expect people will make some cutbacks."

Schmidt said his organization could feel the cutbacks in "discretionary spending, spending on sports programs, spending on swimming lessons, spending on memberships and health issues."

And Governor Cuomo urged the House to use its time in Washington to pass aid for states affected by hurricane Sandy.(The Senate passed the aid bill Friday.)

"While a fiscal cliff deal remains elusive, passing the Sandy aid package should not be a matter impacted, much less stalled, by the same partisan contention or parliamentary process," Cuomo said in a statement.

Watch our round-up of fiscal cliff-related news from 6 pm Friday by clicking on the picture.

- reported by 7 News, The New York Times, The Associated Press
 

Saturday, October 25, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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