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Analysts grim on deficit reduction deal

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 6:02 p.m.

WASHINGTON — New comments from top Republican lawmaker John Boehner slamming health care reforms illustrate how hard it will be for Washington to reach a deficit reduction agreement when talks resume next week, analysts said on Thursday.

President Obama and Congress will begin negotiating next week on a plan that could avert tax hikes and spending cuts set to begin in January that economists worry could push the economy over the “fiscal cliff” and into recession.

Boehner did not explicitly mention the “fiscal cliff” talks in an opinion piece published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday. But he argued the nation cannot afford the costs of Obama's 2010 health care reform law, given the United State's sluggish economy and vast $16 trillion debt.

“That's why I've been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation's massive debt challenge,” said Boehner, who is a key player in the talks.

Boehner's comments show it won't be easy to reach a deal on the thorny tax and spending issues, said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group in Washington.

“There's an enormous gulf between the two parties on the details,” he said, noting it is still possible that Obama and Congress may agree by January to broad spending and tax measures, and then take months afterward to iron out details.

“Plunging off the cliff, then passing a tax cut in January that excludes the rich — is still a very live option,” Valliere said.

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