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In this Nov. 16, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, as he hosted a meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to discuss the deficit and economy in Washington. Playing both sides, Obama is trying to balance his public pressure campaign on Republicans over the looming “fiscal cliff” with his private negotiations with GOP leaders. Advisers see the carrot-and-stick approach as key to winning concessions from Republicans on taxes and reaching a deal to avert the series of year-end tax hikes and spending cuts.

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Tease photo

Near deal, Obama backs off hard lines in search of compromise

Just two weeks before the economy-threatening "fiscal cliff" is due to kick in, both President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are making significant concessions to each other, backing off what had once been ironclad positions on how to avoid the huge automatic spending cuts and tax increases.

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