Accusations subside as lawmakers, White House quietly work toward possible deal

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from FoxNews,

Washington’s hush-hush budget talks Friday, while not yet producing a concrete deal by any means, were notable for one detail — the relative lack of vitriol, after weeks of nonstop, hyper-charged accusations between Democrats and Republicans.

The suddenly restrained tone in Washington was a signal that, while talks could derail at any moment, lawmakers and White House officials were at least trying to reach common ground.

“I’ve never seen the president, quite frankly, more open to the idea of meaningful reforms to address why we’re in debt in terms of entitlement reform,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News, while calling on his own party to consider the prickly issue of taxes.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney delayed his daily press briefing by hours, as back-channel talks were underway. Later addressing reporters, Carney said President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner spoke by phone Friday afternoon, and had a “good conversation.”

No details were released.

Though progress was slow, lawmakers said the fact both sides are talking was a good thing. Some pointed to indications that Obama might even be open to modest changes to ObamaCare, despite fighting them for months.

Earlier, Senate Republicans described a high-stakes White House meeting with Obama as positive. They did not announce a deal, but continued to work toward a bipartisan plan that could end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is helping lead the effort on the Senate side to craft an alternative proposal, said she presented a plan to the White House that would fund the government for six months and raise the debt ceiling through the end of January.

She said Obama did not say, “that’s a great idea.” But Collins said there were discussions about both short- and long-term approaches. She called on Obama to put out a debt-ceiling plan of his own.

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