Democratic aides say Obama, Boehner moving closer to debt-ceiling deal

Democratic aides on Thursday said the White House and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were moving closer to a deal to reduce federal deficits and raise the debt ceiling. 

Democrats were told Wednesday night that Obama is prepared to cut a deal with Boehner that would include spending cuts and concrete entitlement reforms, according to two senior Democratic aides.

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The aides said the deal would only include the promise of tax reform next year. This would represent a major concession, the aides said, since it would not include any concrete revenue increases as part of the deal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the White House called Thursday afternoon to tell Democrats that there was no deal yet during a briefing in which White House Budget Director Jack Lew visited Senate Democrats. But Reid also pointedly said there had to be fairness in a "potential agreement" under discussion, and that it could not just include spending cuts. 

"What I have to say is this. The president always talked about balance. There has to be some fairness in this. This can't all be cuts," Reid said. "There has to be some revenues. The caucus agrees with that. I hope the president sticks with, that and I am confident he will."

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said many Democrats in the meeting with Lew were "volcanic" over the idea of a budget deal that would not include new revenues. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney quickly pushed back at reports of a possible deal, opening his daily briefing by saying the reports were incorrect. 

“There is no deal. We are not close to a deal,” Carney said at the top of his briefing.

Carney said that conversations are continuing on all levels, but he insisted that there is “no progress to report.”

Lew also told Democrats at the briefing that there was no deal, according to Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Aides to Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said there was no deal and no progress to report as the top two GOP leaders huddled Thursday afternoon in the Speaker’s office.

But Boehner earlier on Thursday told reporters that he was preparing his conference for a possible compromise. Boehner said he did not believe a majority of his conference were unwilling to budge.

Separately, a representative of the S&P credit ratings agency was scheduled to meet with a group of House GOP freshmen on the debt talks. The meeting was organized by Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.). 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to comment on a possible deal.

Watch Boehner below.


—This story was posted at 1:52 and updated at 2:53 p.m.