-White House, Speaker Confirm Meeting, Decline To Discuss Details
-Obama, Boehner Offices Say ‘The Lines of Communication Remain Open’
-President, Speaker Talk Face To Face For First Time In 23 Days

By John Shaw

WASHINGTON (MNI) – President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met
Sunday at the White House about the fiscal cliff impasse, with the two leaders
saying that they are not going to disclose what they discussed.

“We’re not going to read out details of the conversation but the lines of
communication remain open,” Obama and Boehner said in identical statements
issued separately Sunday.

The Sunday meeting is the first face-to-face meeting between the President
and the Speaker in 23 days. At that earlier meeting, Obama and Boehner were
joined by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi met with the president Friday in a private session.

Lawmakers from both parties have said that the fiscal cliff talks will
largely be between Obama and Boehner, with each consulting leaders from his

Boehner, at a Friday briefing, expressed clear frustration with the pace of
the talks. He blamed Obama for “another wasted week.”

In remarks outside his office, Boehner said that staff level discussions
between Congress and the White House have resumed but there has been no movement
toward an agreement.

Boehner said that Republicans offered a good faith alternative this Monday
and have received no counter offer from the White House.

The Speaker said that “a lot of things are possible” to raise additional
revenues and move toward an agreement but insisted that the president show more

“When is he going to take a step toward us?” Boehner asked.

Two weeks ago, Obama offered a proposal that calls for $1.6 trillion in
additional revenues, $600 billion in entitlement savings and $50 billion for new
infrastructure spending.

The administration plan also calls for the extension of Bush era tax cuts
for those families making less than $250,000 a year, the extension of the two
percentage point payroll tax reduction that was first approved in 2010, a
renewal of unemployment insurance benefits, and a housing refinance provision to
help homeowners who are underwater in their mortgages.

The administration is recommending a revised procedure for the debt ceiling
in which Congress no longer would have to affirmatively approve a debt hike.
Instead, Congress would be able to block debt ceiling increases by passing
motions of disapproval, but these would take two-thirds majorities in both
chambers. Last week,

Last Monday, House Republicans countered with a plan that calls for $1.4
trillion in spending cuts and $800 billion in additional revenues through tax

The spending savings include $600 billion from health care entitlements,
$300 billion from other entitlements, $200 billion by using the chained CPI for
indexing benefit programs and $300 billion in additional discretionary savings.

Boehner has said he remains convinced that it’s possible to raise $800
billion in revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions, adding that the
bulk of these revenues would come from upper income people.

–MNI Washington Bureau; tel: +1 202-371-2121; email: jshaw@mni-news.com

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