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White House Ready to Negotiate on Bush Tax Cuts

November 5, 2010

President Obama is inviting Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to dinner on November 18, where the top item on the agenda will be the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Thursday that Obama is willing to talk about keeping the rates low for all income brackets, but only temporarily.

“He’d be open to having that discussion and open to listening to what the debate is on both sides of that,” Gibbs said, according to Reuters.

“It’s not just going to be a photo op,” Obama told reporters. “Hopefully it may spill over into dinner.”

However, Obama is not ready to concede making the Bush tax cuts permanent, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., has demanded.

“The president does not believe, and I think would not accept, permanently extending the upper-end tax cuts,” said Gibbs, according to The New York Times.

It is not clear if McConnell has sent in his RSVP for the dinner party just yet. But he indicated Thursday in a speech that he is still in no mood for compromise, at least on issues like the health care bill.

“Some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office,” he said, according to Reuters. “But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.”

The pre-Thanksgiving dinner at the White House is likely to be similar to Thanksgiving dinners at a lot of families’ homes, with plenty of bickering around the table.

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