Biden meets privately with GOP senators

Biden meets privately with GOP senators
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Vice President Biden has met privately with 17 Republican senators in hopes of finding common ground on areas such as infrastructure and tax reform.

"They know what has to happen," Biden said in an interview with "CBS This Morning." "What we have to do is keep the focus on the middle class. I believe the majority of the Republican Party still believes in the notion that we have to have the best trained people in the world to attract business and the best infrastructure in the world."

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Many of the meetings have been held at his residence at the Naval Observatory, Biden said.

"I invite them in my home," he added. "We've having private conversations."

The vice president said both sides had acknowledged "a lot of outside pressures from particular interest groups" but said he was optimistic that there was room to strike deals.

"Have you ever heard a Republican use the phrase 'middle class' as much as you've heard in the last year?" Biden said. "They get it. They get it."

The White House has said they hope to broker a deal that would restructure the corporate tax code in exchange for new infrastructure spending.

But Republicans generally gave President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday a chilly response, saying his call for billions in new taxes on the wealthy and big banks was a nonstarter. Obama proposed using those funds for infrastructure spending, free community college tuition and a tax break for middle-class families.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) dismissed the ideas as "fantasyland proposals" during a press conference Wednesday and suggested the president could be scuttling efforts to broker a deal.

"We'd love to do tax reforms, but you heard the president last night call for raising taxes again," Boehner said. "Now if he wants to raise taxes, that's going to make it very difficult for us to come to some agreement on how we're going to reform our broken tax code."

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett defended the president's proposals in a string of TV interviews Wednesday, saying the administration had adopted Republican ideas.

"There are many of the proposals that he set forth last night, including many of the tax proposals that began and came from Republicans," Jarrett told CNN. "And so, let's not just say because it comes out of his mouth that it's dead on arrival. Let's work together; let's find that common ground."