The White House may or may not have hosted a meeting between the president and House Speaker John Boehner over the weekend, no one is confirming. Press secretary Jay Carney said an "hour by hour narrative" of movement in deficit negotiations matters only to a "very small community" and any leaking might compromise progress.
"We're not ambling along here hoping that action takes place," Carney told reporters at the White House briefing on Wednesday. "The fact that we're not broadcasting every conversation and meeting doesn't mean that the conversations and meetings aren't happening. And they are happening with some level of intensity because we believe we have to get this done."
On Tuesday, President Obama called for a Thursday meeting for bipartisan leaders to work on a final agreement rather than a temporary stopgap to the debt crisis "so we can build on the work that's already been done and drive toward a final agreement." This, he said, "will require both parties to get out of our comfort zones and both parties to agree on real compromise. I'm ready to do that. I believe there are enough people in each party that are willing to do that."
Carney joked with reporters insistent on getting confirmation of a Sunday meeting between Boehner and Obama, promising to buy lunch "if you can find people out in America who would rather know the content of an individual meeting the president may or may not have had with a member of Congress than an actual accomplishment from Washington."
The August 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling is looming, Carney said. "We can't cover our eyes, cover our ears, and wish it away. So there is an obligation here to act."
This article appears in the July 6, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.