WASHINGTON — President Obama and congressional leadership agreed on Tuesday that the best way to resolve differences on the soon-to-be-expired Bush tax cuts would be to hold additional meetings.
In a classic Washington solution to an intractable political standoff, Obama proposed holding meetings with four members -- a Republican and Democrat from both the Senate and the House -- along with his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Office of Management and Budget chief Jacob Lew.
"The president did suggest that to unlock the tax disagreement that we have that secretary of the Treasury and the director of the OMB would sit down with four of our members, one from each caucus, and begin discussion on how to unlock this disagreement they have over extending all of the current rates," said incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) during a stakeout following the meeting with the president.
A Democratic aide confirmed the meeting proposal.
Both Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) indicated little to no willingness to move off their perch of opposing any reversion of tax rates (for any income bracket) to pre-Bush levels. They and incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor did, however, stress that the President admitted he had not kept up enough dialogue, to date, with his GOP critics.
"I was encouraged by the president's remarks regarding his, perhaps, not having reached out enough to us in the last session and that this meeting was the beginning of a series in which he hoped we could work together in a [good] fashion for the benefit of the American people given the problems we face," said Cantor.
A senior administration official confirmed to CNN that the president did say he had not done enough outreach to the Republicans during the past two years. Obama, in remarks shortly after the meeting, suggested that he and GOP leaders will hold another discussion at Camp David in the future.
Who the four lawmakers will be in the upcoming tax cut conversations is not immediately known, though Boehner said that Rep. David Camp (R-Mich.) would represent House Republicans.
UPDATE: Sen Max Baucus (D-Mont.) who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, will represent Senate Democrats at the tax cut summit, sources tell the Huffington Post.