President Obama and Speaker John Boehner met one-on-one at the White House on Sunday in an attempt to hash out the details of a deal to avert falling off the so-called fiscal cliff.
The president and Republican leader were tight-lipped about their first face-to-face encounter in 23 days, offering no details other than to confirm that the meeting took place.
The White House and Mr. Boehner’s office released identical statements afterward.
“This afternoon, the president and the Speaker Boehner met at the White House to discuss efforts to resolve the fiscal cliff,” the statements said. “We’re not reading out details of the conversation, but the lines of communication remain open.”
On Friday Mr. Boehner and the White House were blaming each other for the slow-pace and little progress of the negotiations. The speaker accused Mr. Obama of purposely “slow-walking” the talks and Vice President Joe Biden said a deal could be struck in a matter of minutes if Republicans would just agree to raise tax rates on families making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000.
But Mr. Boehner has so far resisted Mr. Obama’s push to increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay down the nation’s soaring deficits, arguing that the revenue could be generated solely by eliminating tax deductions and loopholes in the code.
While Mr. Obama is holding fast to its proposal to increase rates, the White House has shown some flexibility on exactly how high taxes will go. The president has said he wants rates to return to the 39.6 percent for the top 2 percent – what they were during the Clinton administration.
But on Friday, Vice President Biden said they were willing to negotiate with Republicans on just how far they should go up.
Meanwhile, two GOP senators on Sunday said they could support higher tax rates if Democrats will agree to cuts to entitlements. Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said Republicans needed to compromise and accept a tax rate increase on wealthy Americans.
“A lot of people are putting forth a theory — and I actually think it has merit — where you go and you give the president the 2 percent increase that he’s talking about, the rate increase on the top 2 percent, and all of a sudden the shift goes back to entitlements,” Mr. Corker said on “Fox News Sunday.”