Fiscal Cliff: Grim and Grimmer

The good news: They finally started talking again.

The bad news: The talks went nowhere. Maybe even backwards.

After a week-long hiatus, talks between senior aides to the president and the speaker of the House resumed this afternoon. White House Legislative Director Rob Nabors met top Boehner aides Mike Summers and Bret Loper, but the meeting concluded with no discernible signs of progress and, if anything, a hardening of positions.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, Nabors reiterated two key White House demands: 1) higher tax rates on the wealthy must be included in any deal; and, 2) a deal must also include a permanent extension of the debt ceiling.

Nabors indicated no willingness to go any further on limiting the growth of entitlement spending, the sources said.

Without further spending cuts, Boehner's aides made it clear they are unwilling to make concessions on tax rates and a White House proposal that Congress cede some control over raising the nation's debt ceiling is a non-starter.

And so it goes. One step closer to the fiscal cliff.

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