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Obama, GOP vow to work on tax differences

President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House campus in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, about his meeting today with Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders.

November 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Though there were no quick fixes, President Barack Obama and Republican leaders vowed to work toward common ground on their sharply different tax views before year's end. "The American people did not vote for gridlock," Obama said following the session. "They did not vote for unyielding partisanship. They're demanding cooperation and they're demanding progress and they'll hold all of us, and I mean all of us, accountable."

The meeting was the first since the mid-term elections shifted control of the House to the GOP and narrowed the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Right out of the gate, Republicans tried to set the tone for the Tuesday session, vowing they will be staunchly opposed to any tax increases when the current Bush era tax cuts expire at the end of 2010.

The president has said that he would oppose a permanent extension of the tax cuts for taxpayers earning more than $200,000 as individuals and $250,000 as couples.

There was no consensus on the tax cuts, but the president and bipartisan congressional leaders agreed to check their differences by appointing a group to negotiate a tax cut agreement.

Tuesday's midmorning meeting came a day after Obama announced a proposal to freeze the salaries of federal workers for the next two years.

The White House talks were seen as an opportunity for the two parties to size up each other as they struggle for common ground on taxes and the START treaty - two prominent topics on the legislative agenda before Congress adjourns for the year.

Tuesday's meeting is only scheduled to be one hour long. However, the White House said it's a way to begin a longer conversation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.