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Democrats meet with Obama to discuss debt

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats met with President Barack Obama on Thursday for talks on cutting the deficit as the White House pushed back against calls from Republicans for Obama to show more leadership and offer more specifics on the issue.

"We are at a point now where we don't need new plans," said presidential spokesman Jay Carney, arguing that Obama has already offered one. "We need to find common ground around the shared goal of significant deficit reduction."

Carney also shrugged off House Speaker John Boehner's offer to negotiate directly with the president. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that negotiations being led by Vice President Joe Biden aren't making fast enough progress and said he was willing to get involved directly with Obama.

"The vehicle for these negotiations is the talks led by the vice president. And we feel that those talks have been productive," Carney said.

The Biden talks with a small group of lawmakers from both parties aim to identify spending cuts in the trillions of dollars Republicans are demanding as the price for their vote to raise the government's borrowing limit. If the limit is not raised by Aug. 2, the Treasury Department predicts unprecedented default on U.S. obligations and an ensuing economic calamity.

The Biden group doesn't meet again until June 9. Thursday, Boehner's office pointed to a new credit warning from Moody's Investor Service, which said the U.S. government could lose its sterling credit rating if Congress and the Obama administration don't make progress on an agreement to raise the borrowing limit. The government hit its $14.3-trillion borrowing limit on May 16.

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