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Fiscal Cliff Talks Get Started; Two Sides Sound Optimistic

Getting started: President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, at the start of today's meeting.

President Obama and congressional leaders from both major parties met at the White House this morning for the first of what will likely be many negotiations aimed at averting a plunge over the so-called fiscal cliff.

We watched for news from the key players -- who include House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio -- and updated with highlights.

Just before the meeting, this message was

"Look forward to mtg w/@WhiteHouse re: plan to avert #fiscalcliff via pro-growth tax reform & spending cuts; not tax rate hikes"

The administration, on the other hand, is tweeting a "closer look at how the President's plan raises $1.6T in revenue pic.twitter.com/m7Cogl1d."

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. Leaders Sound United Afterward:

As often happens after the first set of talks on tough issues, the lawmakers have emerged from the meeting to say the discussions were constructive, that they understand a solution needs to be reached and that they're confident they can do it.

-- Boehner: Revenues (as in more of them, from taxes) are on the table. It's also "incumbent on my colleagues to show the American people that we're serious about cutting spending. ... I believe we can do this."

-- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: "I feel very good about what we talked about." The "cornerstones" of a deal are there. Reid said lawmakers and their staffs will work through the Thanksgiving recess and then meet with the president again after that holiday.

-- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: "A very constructive meeting. ... Every person in America knows that we must reach agreement." And she said the outlines of a deal need to be rolled out well before Christmas so that consumers have confidence during the crucial holiday shopping season.

-- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: "We're prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem," which he said is the rising cost of entitlement programs.

Update at 10:35 a.m. ET. "We're Going To Get To Work," Obama says:

Saying that "our challenge is to make sure that we are able to cooperate together, work together, find some common ground, make some tough compromise [and] build some consensus," President Obama just welcomed Boehner and other leaders to the White House.

"We're going to get to work," he added, before also wishing Boehner a day-early happy birthday.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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