Boehner, Obama meet at White House

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met at the White House on Monday morning to further negotiations on a deficit deal.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement that the president and Speaker were continuing "their discussions about the fiscal cliff and balanced deficit reduction."

The meeting lasted approximately 45 minutes. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was also present, according to the White House.
Press secretary Jay Carney said that while "conversations continue," the White House would not provide a specific readout of the meeting.

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"Without getting into the details of conversations, I think it's fair to say we have continued to engage in communications," Carney said.

Carney also refused to say whether there was a sense of optimism growing that a deal could be achieved.

"Frank, direct, deliberate - I think we've used those words, and that remains the case," Carney.

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said Boehner characterized Monday's meeting at the White House as "very cordial" and said "both sides are at the table."

According to Chambliss, who met with the Speaker for about 15 minutes, Boehner was in a "good mood" despite being "ways and ways away from a deal yet."

Chambliss said there was no reason for Obama and Boehner "to meet again until they get closer to a place" on which both sides can agree.

It was Obama and Boehner’s first face-to-face meeting since last Thursday, when they met in the Oval Office for almost an hour. The White House and congressional leaders are seeking to craft a deal by year’s end to avoid January’s impending tax increases and automatic spending cuts. 

Boehner and Obama also spoke by phone on Friday night. The Speaker in that call offered to raise tax rates on income above $1 million if Democrats also agreed to "substantial cuts and reforms," a source familiar with the talks told The Hill.

That move is a significant concession from the GOP leader, as Republicans have opposed Obama’s calls for tax hikes on the wealthy to pay for deficit reduction.

Responding to reports of the proposal,Carney said that Obama continued to believe that rates should rise on all incomes over $250,000.

"The president's insistence that rates need to go up on the top 2 percent was based on an economic reality, which was that in order to achieve a broad deficit reduction package.. a certain level of revenue gleaned from the wealthy had to be met," Carney said.


Carney also seemed to indicate that certain entailment reform proposals — including some variation of "chained CPI" — were on the table. Chained CPI refers to a way of changing cost of living increases in programs to account for people cutting their spending due to inflation.

While the press secretary said he was "not going to get into specific policy proposals," he also acknowledged that an eventual deal "will require tough choices by all sides."

"As I've said in the past, he's prepared to make tough choices," Carney said.

Carney again referenced "tough choices" when asked about whether the president was doing enough to rally support among Democrats on Capitol Hill behind an eventual debt deal. But the press secretary insisted "the president speaks frequently with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill as well as Democratic lawmakers in general."Reports on Sunday night said Boehner had also offered a one-year extension of the debt ceiling limit.

Obama’s initial offer called for allowing him to raise the debt ceiling as needed. Republicans, though, have argued that holding power over the debt limit gives them added leverage to force additional spending cuts. 

However, Obama has rallied business leaders who back rolling a debt-limit hike within the fiscal cliff package in hopes of avoiding economic uncertainty. 2011's fight over raising the debt limit was marked by political turmoil and saw the U.S. suffer its first ever credit rating downgrade.

Reports said Obama turned down Boehner's latest offer, arguing that it provided insufficient tax revenues. But the GOP concessions and meetings are seen as a step forward after both sides last week argued that there had been little progress in negotiations.

Updated at 2:48 p.m.

Molly Hooper and Justin Sink contributed to this story.