Obama, GOP leaders talk jobs, spending at White House meeting

Job creation and government spending were on the menu Wednesday during President Obama's lunch with top House Republicans.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) emerged from the sitdown to describe discussions toward common ground on the top economic issues facing Congress and the White House.

"The main portion of the entire lunch was talking about the economy," McCarthy said at a stakeout following the lunch. "We looked to places that we could work together on, from jobs to cutting government spending."

Boehner repeatedly said Obama made clear that he was interested in finding areas of "common ground," and he listed education and trade as two areas where that could happen.

On trade, Boehner said, there is an appetite in the House for trade deals with Colombia and Panama, and he is hopeful Obama will send those deals to Capitol Hill — "the sooner the better."

The meeting, announced Tuesday, was seen as an entreaty by Obama toward the Republican House, and to help find a path forward on the budget and job creation in coming weeks and months.

Republicans, for instance, have chafed at Obama's proposal to freeze government spending. They have signaled that they intend to further slash spending, through a coming continuing resolution, their budget proposal and an impending vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Democrats, meanwhile, complain that the Republican House has done little to pursue job creation, with their focus so far on repealing Obama's healthcare reform law and refusing the president's suggested "investments" in new projects.

—Sam Youngman contributed.

This post was updated at 2:05 p.m.

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