Obama, Boehner meet again

Aides call the night talks ‘frank,’ sug­gest­ing lit­tle progress was made.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byan­drew­tay­lor and Jim Kuhnhenn House Speaker John Boehner says Pres­i­dent Barack Obama isn’t se­ri­ous about cut­ting spend­ing. AP

WASHINGTON — Face to face with time run­ning short, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Repub­li­can House Speaker John Boehner ne­go­ti­ated at the White House Thurs­day night in what aides called “frank” talks aimed at break­ing a dead­lock and steer­ing the na­tion away from im­pend­ing bud­get cuts and tax in­creases.

Boehner re­turned to the Capi­tol an hour later, walking past re­porters with­out com­ment. There was no in­di­ca­tion whether any progress had been made, though the use of the word “frank” by both sides to de­scribe the talks sug­gested the pres­i­dent and the speaker stuck hard to their op­pos­ing po­si­tions.

The meet­ing came shortly af­ter Obama sug­gested that the slug­gish pace of deficit-cut­ting talks be­tween the ad­min­is­tra­tion and con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans was a re­sult of a “con­tentious cau­cus” of GOP law­mak­ers who were mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for Boehner to ne­go­ti­ate.

Boehner saw it dif­fer­ently. He said ear­lier in the day: “Un­for­tu­nately, the White House is so unse­ri­ous about cut­ting spend­ing that it ap­pears will­ing to slow-walk any agree­ment and walk our econ­omy right up to the fis­cal cliff.”

Thurs­day night’s meet­ing was the two men’s sec­ond face-to-face en­counter in five days as they seek to find an agree­ment that avoids ma­jor tax in­creases and across­the-board spend­ing cuts sched­uled to kick in Jan­uary. Also at­tend­ing were Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Ti­mothy Gei­th­ner and Obama’s chief con­gres­sional lob­by­ist, Rob Nabors.

Be­fore the meet­ing, Boehner ac­cused Obama of drag­ging out ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Obama is in­sist­ing on higher tax rates for house­hold in­comes above $250,000 to cut fed­eral deficits; Boehner says he op­poses higher rates, though he has said he would be will­ing to raise tax rev­enue in­stead by clos­ing loop­holes and de­duc­tions.

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