Obama and lawmakers agreed that staffers would begin working on a framework that would be presented to the White House and lawmakers after the Thanksgiving holiday. The president leaves Saturday on a four-day trip to Asia.
Pelosi said at the Capitol that she’d hope to get $4 trillion in cuts from projected deficits over 10 years, the same amount Obama sought during last year’s debt ceiling talks.
While the White House talks proceeded Friday morning, about 20 House members – half of them Democrats, half Republicans – met to talk about bipartisan solutions. They were urging colleagues to agree on a broader solution for reducing the deficit.
"This fits in hugely with the White House and congressional talks in trying to find a response large enough and a long-term solution – as opposed to some quick fix that is full of gimmicks – that involves spending cuts, entitlement reform and revenue as well," said Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo.
Obama also met Friday afternoon with advocates for the elderly, Hispanics and African-Americans, who said they’d lobby lawmakers to support his call for higher taxes on higher incomes.
Currently, the top income-tax rates are 33 and 35 percent, but they’re slated to rise to 36 and 39.6 percent next year. The president wants to keep the lower Bush-era rates for individuals who make less than $200,000 a year and families earning less than $250,000, while raising the top rates for others. He’s signaled this week that those rates need not fully revert to pre-Bush levels.
Lawmakers – perhaps chastened by the results of last year’s debt crisis, when one credit rating agency downgraded the U.S. – sought to bolster confidence that there won’t be a repeat.
“We’re both going to have to give up some of the things that we know are a problem,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “There is no more ‘Let’s do it some other time.’ We’re going to do it now.”