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Obama cuts vacation short to resume fiscal cliff talks

President Obama will return to Washington on Wednesday night up against the fiscal cliff deadline.

Obama fiscal cliff conference december 21 2012Enlarge
US President Barack Obama walks across the South Lawn of the White House before departing December 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is cutting short his annual Christmas vacation to return to Washington early as Congress races against the Dec. 31 deadline to avoid the fiscal cliff. 

The president will fly back from the family holiday home in Hawaii on Wednesday night and is expected to arrive back in Washington early Thursday, reported the Associated Press.

Congress will be back in session on Thursday to resume negotiations on a budget deal to avoid the package of automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are known as the 'fiscal cliff'. 

Negotiations fell apart late last week and the Los Angeles Times saidthat Obama's last contact with his budget-negotiating partners in Washington was on Friday. 

He met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and spoke by phone with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

The president told Congressional leaders that he wants a scaled-down plan that would preserve middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans, reported Forbes. 

Before leaving for Hawaii, President Obama called on all parties to "cool off" over the Christmas holiday and be ready to start work when Congress reconvenes on Dec. 27.

“This is something within our capacity to solve. It doesn’t take that much work,” the president said in a televised address.”We just have to do the right thing. So call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done.”

Congressional leaders don't seem as optimistic that the nation's finances will be solved before the end of the year.  

Last week, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said she expects any action in the last few days of the year to be "a patch because in four days we can't solve everything," reports AP. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/121226/obama-cuts-vacation-short-resume-fiscal-cliff-talks