WASHINGTON (AP) -- It may not sound like it from the rhetoric, but both the House and Senate have passed separate bills to delay big tax increases awaiting nearly every taxpayer next year if Congress and the White House can't agree on a plan to avert the "fiscal cliff."
The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bill in July that would extend many of the expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts for middle-income families, while letting tax cuts end for individuals who make more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000.
The Republican-led House passed a bill in August that would extend the tax cuts for just about everyone. Leaders from each party say their bill should be the starting point for finding a solution in the next few weeks.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says it's unacceptable for some congressional Republicans to "hold middle-class tax cuts hostage" because they don't want tax rates to rise on the wealthy.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama says the average middle-class family of four could pay $2,200 more in taxes next year after the fiscal cliff. He says Republicans could give families "a sense of security going into the New Year" by extending tax cuts for the middle class.
In the Republican address, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch accuses Obama of a "classic bait-and-switch on the American people" amounting to a tax increase twice the size of what he campaigned on.
Hatch says Democrats are pushing what he calls a disastrous strategy.
BOSTON (AP) -- Mitt Romney has been a virtual ghost since his Election Day defeat.
He's been in seclusion in Southern California for most of the time since Nov. 6. He surfaced only for a private lunch with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday.
Romney's abrupt withdrawal from politics is creating a leadership vacuum within the GOP. It's left the party rudderless and in disarray during what may be the most important policy debate in a generation.
There's no shortage of Republicans maneuvering to fill the void, from House Speaker John Boehner to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
GOP officials say the leadership void is par for the course after losing a presidential contest, and that it won't last long.
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