President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met behind closed door for nearly an hour at the White House late Thursday afternoon to dicuss ways to avoid a series of spending cuts and tax increases that are slated to take effect at the end of the year.
The two leaders have met privately and spoken by phone several times, but still disagree about how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Obama insists that taxes be cut for the middle-class, but not the wealthy. Boehner wants no tax increases .
"The president and speaker had a frank meeting in the Oval Office tonight," a spokesman for the speaker said. "It lasted approximately 50 minutes. There will be no further readout of the meeting, but lines of communication remain open."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney earlier Thursday declined to comment on any specifics of the negotiations and though he criticized the speaker, he insisted that he liked him.
"Let me just say that while I personally am very fond of John Boehner, his record of predicting what would happen if certain policies, economic policies were instituted, is...abysmal," he said.
Carney also said the president likes him.
"At the personal level, I think -- and I know that the president likes and respect Speaker Boehner," he said.
Boehner plans to return home to Ohio over the weekend so the two leaders will not be able to meet until next week. Spokesmen for the men scoffed when reporters insuated that negotiations would stop over the weekend since each has a telephone.
Failure to reach a deadline by the end of the year would mean that $500 billion in tax increases take effect early next year, coupled with $109 billion in spending reductions, the first installment toward $1.2 trillion in cuts over two years.