The White House said today that a "significant" deal with Republicans on cutting government spending and raising the nation's debt limit is still possible, even as the administration hardened its stance on the need for increased tax revenue as "the only way to get it done." President Obama made his first direct foray into the deficit negotiations today, meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for about 30 minutes. Obama said it was "constructive," and concluded that there are still opportunities for a deal, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The White House has proposed raising about $600 billion in new tax revenue, including ending subsidies to oil and gas companies, an idea that failed in the Senate. The administration also would tax private equity or hedge fund managers at higher income tax rates instead of lower capital gains rates, change the depreciation formula on corporate jets, and limit itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers. But Republicans are demanding huge cuts in government spending and insisting there be no tax increases. Ahead of his meeting with Obama this evening, McConnell said Democrats' calls for tax increases do not amount to a "serious" position. "It is my hope that the president will take those off the table today so that we can have a serious discussion about our country's economic future," McConnell wrote in an editorial today on CNN.com.