'Serious differences' in fiscal stand-off: top Republican

The White House and lawmakers have yet to reach a deal on averting a looming fiscal crisis, with the top Republican in Congress warning Wednesday that "serious differences" remain on how to further reduce the debt.

"We don't have an agreement today," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters a day after speaking with President Barack Obama to discuss their recent exchange of offers on how to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Boehner acknowledged that Obama lowered his opening gambit of $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the coming decade to $1.4 trillion, but said the White House was not putting forward enough spending cuts on offer to make the deal palatable.

"I remain the most optimistic person in this town, but we've got some serious differences," Boehner said.

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said lawmakers should prepare to stay in Washington right up until Christmas Eve, then return after Christmas to the brink of the new year in a bid to approve legislation to prevent taxes from rising on all Americans and automatic federal spending cuts from kicking in.

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