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GOP presses Obama on budget cuts

WASHINGTON -- Top House Republicans pressed President Barack Obama yesterday for a detailed plan on budget cuts, and one accused him of distorting a GOP Medicare proposal at the center of the partisan divide over spending.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the meeting was productive despite the absence of any signs of progress. He also made clear that Obama has no intention of letting up on his assertions that Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to send future Medicare recipients into the private insurance marketplace will "end Medicare as we know it."

The session in the East Room came as the GOP sought to build pressure on Obama for trillions in spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the government's ability to borrow.

Afterward, rank-and-file GOP lawmakers streamed out the front door of the White House and into a caravan of blue buses waiting for them on Pennsylvania Avenue, while members of the GOP leadership stopped to speak to new media awaiting them under a steaming sun.

"Any day Republicans and Democrats are actually having a dialogue, this is a good thing," said Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

Yet, it was hard to see any concrete progress from a meeting that, based on descriptions by both sides, amounted to a face-to-face recitation of each side's positions, but no breakthrough on how to reach a debt-reduction deal. The talks came as an Aug. 2 deadline approaches for the federal government to raise the debt limit or go into unprecedented default.

"I think it helps in that it allows everyone in the room to look each other in the eye." House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "I told the president, one more time, this is the moment. This is the window of opportunity where we can deal with this on our terms. . . . Let's not kick the can down the road one more time."

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