Obama 'Very Encouraged' By Bipartisan 'Summit' : The Two-Way The president met with Congressional leaders at the White House -- the first such gathering since the midterm elections.
NPR logo No Breakthroughs; But Obama Is 'Very Encouraged' By Bipartisan 'Summit'

No Breakthroughs; But Obama Is 'Very Encouraged' By Bipartisan 'Summit'

President Obama as he arrived at today's event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and Congressional leaders had a bipartisan "summit" this morning at the White House. We updated this post with highlights, so be sure to hit your "refresh" button.

Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. On All Things Considered later, NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro will report that while there were no major breakthroughs, "both sides agreed on a path to resolve one of the biggest stand-offs":

"The uncertainty is over whether to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts, or only tax cuts below a certain income level. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky held the Republican line, saying 'it is the view of 100% of Republicans and an number of Senate Democrats as well that the tax rates should not be bifurcated -- in other words that we should treat all taxpayers the same.'

"President Obama said extending tax cuts for those with incomes over $250,000 a year doesn't make financial sense.

"But both sides said they believe the issue will be resolved within the month. That's because, for the first time, they agreed on a plan for getting to 'yes.' Negotiators from the White House and Congress will be meeting to, in Obama's words, break the log jam.

"Meanwhile, despite heated rhetoric during the midterm elections, the tone today signaled a more conciliatory tone. Republican Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the likely next speaker of the House, sounded ready to be friends with the Democrat in the White House. 'The more time that we do spend together, we can find a common ground,' Boehner said. And the American people, he added, 'expect us to come here and work on their behalf.' "

Update at 12:59 p.m. ET: The president just concluded his remarks, saying that he is "happy with how the meeting went" and looks forward to more meetings, including at Camp David (where he said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, has never visited).

"I think it will actually yield results before the end of the year," he added.

Update at 12:58 p.m. ET:

"None of this is going to be easy," Obama just said. "We have two parties for a reason. There are real philosophical differences." And while the "atmosphere was extremely civil ... there is always going to be a political incentive against working together."

Still, he said, the lawmakers know "this is not the time to be playing games."

Update at 12:55 p.m. ET: Obama is appointing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Budget Director Jack Lew to work "with representatives of both parties" in an effort to break the "log jam" on the upcoming expiration of Bush-era tax cuts (and in particular whether all of those tax cuts should be extended).

Update at 12:52 p.m. ET: He was "very encouraged" by the meeting, Obama just said. He called it a "productive" session at which all recognized that voters are tired of gridlock in Washington.

Update at 12:50 p.m. ET: Republican leaders are already talking about the meeting. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, just said he thought the lawmakers had a "useful and frank discussion" with the president.

Asked whether Republicans might "dial-down" some of their rhetoric, McConnell noted that "Americans have preferred divided government more often than not." and that during some of those times, Washington has been "quite productive."

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA, said "the president put his best foot forward and said 'we realize, we've got to produce results.' "