President Obama took to the podium in the White House briefing room this afternoon to say everyone’s going to work through the weekend and that the Congressional leaders of both Parties he had just met with from both Parties will reconvene on Sunday – Sunday, people, working hard! – and nothing’s done until everything’s done and all the things I’ve been hearing Washington leaders say for years as they finish playing chicken and get a deal done at the last minute, or near the last minute.
They’ll finish this, believe me. Speaker Boehner’s a natural dealmaker, and the former Clintonistas Obama has working for him – National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, OMB Director Jack Lew, and Chief of Staff Bill Daley – have all been down this road with Republicans many times.
The White House has already suggested all the Bush tax cuts can stay and that it may make real cuts to entitlements. And Republicans are saying the can accept the closing of tax loopholes. The two sides are creeping toward each other, and they’ll get there, because nobody wants to risk getting blamed for the consequences of breaching the debt limit.
After today’s meeting, the Congressional leadership did not come to the stakeout at the White House – a sign that progress is being made and they don’t want to screw it up by saying stupid things. In his brief appearance, Obama said the meeting was “frank” but also “constructive,” meaning they had some arguments but no one shouted and their differences may be bridgeable.
I took some video of Obama in the briefing room for you to see. I left it unedited to create a kind of cinéma vérité effect and give you the feeling of what it’s like to be in the briefing room.
You’ll notice the video starts out with me sitting down until Ann Comptom comes along and politely throws me out of her seat. You can see Wendell Goler of Fox News doing a little live intro before the president appears, and Chip Reid of CBS getting miked up by his producer. You’ll hear people saying “here we go” just before Obama comes out, the traditional signal the video and still camera people give to each other that the president is about to emerge.
I panned the room to give you a sense of the place and the people on hand. And after a couple of minutes, I put the video camera down to get some still photos, which I’ll put up another time.