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Republicans open spending front in 'cliff' row

Published on Dec 12, 2012 6:06 AM
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) talks to reporters after leaving the Senate GOP policy luncheon at the US Captiol Dec 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Senate Republicans met for their weekly policy luncheon meeting and, with the "fiscal cliff" looming, said President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have "refused to be pinned down on any spending cuts." -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama and Republicans waged a new spat over spending cuts on Tuesday, as time ran short and little progress was evident towards ending a vexing year-end austerity and tax crisis.

After days duelling over Mr Obama's demand for higher taxes on the rich, each side accused the other of failing to lay out specific spending cuts, digging in to familiar positions on the showdown known as the "fiscal cliff."

If the two sides cannot agree a deal before the end of the year, taxes will go up on all Americans and automatic and savage cuts to government spending will begin, prompting fears the economy could dive into a new recession.

Top Republicans accused Mr Obama of failing to lay out spending reductions that they say are needed for them to bargain on tax rates, saying he was running down the clock and could force America past the damaging Jan 1 deadline.

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