TODAY   |  December 11, 2012

Deal on the way? Tone on fiscal cliff softens

President Obama traveled to Michigan Monday, telling Republicans he’s willing to “compromise a little bit” on a fiscal cliff deal. This comes just a day after he had his first one-on-one meeting with House Speaker John Boehner in 18 months. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> negotiations seem to be intensifying on the fiscal cliff this morning. chuck todd joins us.

>> good morning. the president has no public events today or planned for this week and many in congress believe the less anyone campaigns publicly, the better their chances are of striking an actual deal.

>> it is good to see everybody in the great state of michigan .

>> reporter: president obama back on the road monday, trying to wheel a deal to get a negotiation on the fiscal cliff.

>> all they would need to do is strike a deal on the top percent. a lot of people have different views. i'm willing to compromise a little bit.

>> reporter: his softer tone came a day after he sat down with speaker john boehner , the details of which were kept secret to give them the freedom to negotiate without political experience. as the president dialed back his rhetoric, campaign arm of the house democrats is doing just the opposite, unveiling this not so subtle position,, accusing them of protecting the wealthy. leaders in washington need to pass their agreement by friday, december 21st if they want to be home by christmas. to make that self imposed dead deadline, boehner and the president have to agree on a framework by the end of this week for it to work its way through congress in time next week. now optimistic about the tone and timing of the meeting between the president and the speaker.

>> oh, gosh, i think all you've got to do is look at the atmosphere. i'm more optimistic now, chuck, i really am, now that they've been meeting.

>> reporter: some doubt that the white house is that serious about cutting spending.

>> i don't think republicans or americans want to raise any taxes just to continue the spending in washington .

>> reporter: talks revolve around three big sticking points, tax rates . the white house wants them raised on the wealthy but is willing to negotiate by how much. entitlement reform, changing how and at what age folks receive medicare and social security , and the debt ceiling. the president wants more unilateral power to raise the country's virtual credit card input with less input from congress.

>> the best i understand, they're actually closer on taxes and entitlements than on the debt ceiling, matt. that seems to be the biggest sticking point. the white house is determined to get it out of the political arena. republicans are not ready to get rid of that leverage that they would have in february in exchange for what they'll agree to on taxes.

>> chuck todd in washington . keep us posted. thank you very