U.S. President Barack Obama and the top House Republican have met again to discuss a looming fiscal crisis. Thursday’s visit to the White House by John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, was the second this week.
Obama and Boehner met for 50 minutes, with the so-called fiscal cliff less than three weeks away.
Afterward, both the White House and Boehner’s office described the meeting as frank. An administration official said lines of communication between the two sides remain open.
An estimated $600 billion in tax increases and drastic government spending cuts will take effect on Jan. 1, unless legislation is passed and signed to prevent that from happening.
Neither the Democratic Obama administration nor top Republicans in Congress has given any indication of progress in the talks in recent days.
The White House is insisting on raising taxes on the richest Americans to help reduce the nation’s debt. Press secretary Jay Carney said the administration is hoping Republicans will give in on the issue.
“We still believe that a big deal is possible. We believe the parameters are there, and we remain confident that if Republicans agree with the basic idea that rates have to go up for the wealthiest while we extend tax cuts for everyone else, that we can reach a deal fairly quickly,” Carney said.
Before the meeting, Obama told a Minnesota television station he was hoping for a change in attitude by Republicans on the tax issue.
Earlier Thursday, Boehner said the president was delaying the talks, and was not concerned enough about cutting government spending.
“But here we are, at the 11th hour, and the president still is not serious about dealing with this issue right here. It is this issue — spending,” Boehner said.
Boehner has been planning to leave Washington to spend several days at his home in Ohio.