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Obama is back; no word of any plan to avoid the 'cliff'

WASHINGTON (AP) - Aides to President Barack Obama are disputing reports that he is sending lawmakers a scaled-down plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff." And they're giving no indication whether he will invite congressional leaders to a White House meeting later today or tomorrow.

Obama returned this morning from a vacation in Hawaii. He spoke by phone with top congressional leaders before flying back to Washington. Last Friday, before he left the White House, he called on lawmakers to pass scaled-down legislation that prevents tax increases for the middle class, raises rates on upper incomes and renews expiring unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. He said a more sweeping measure could wait until the new year.

A little more than four days from the deadline to avoid spending cuts and tax increases, there is no legislation pending in either the House or the Senate. And the rhetoric continues to be confrontational.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today accused House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur) of running a dictatorship. A Boehner spokesman responded that Reid should "talk less and legislate more" in order to avoid the fiscal cliff.

The House will be back in session Sunday evening, but it's not clear what legislation it might consider.


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