WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and congressional Republicans are setting their sights on a more modest 'fiscal cliff' deal to extend current tax rates for most Americans, raise rates for top earners but leave other, vexing issues for the new year, as hopes dim for a wide-ranging bargain.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met late Thursday at the White House. There were few signs of progress. Both sides describe the talks as "frank," a less than optimistic assessment.

While Boehner took the lead in negotiations, a growing number of Senate Republicans were calling on their House colleagues to yield on their opposition to letting top tax rates increase on income over $250,000 for couples, while extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone else.