The White House-Congress tax meetings kicked off this morning with a summit on Capitol Hill that lasted over an hour and a half but left little clues about how both parties intend to resolve the issue of the expiring Bush tax cuts.
“We had a very civil, constructive discussion, very much in the spirit of the meeting at the White House yesterday. No surprises," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said after the meeting. "We went through everything on the table and we agreed we’re going to come back this afternoon late in the day and continue the conversations. And we also agreed that it's very important that we're not going to characterize our discussions.”
Geithner and Office of Management & Budget director Jack Lew arrived on the Hill shortly after 10am this morning to meet with representatives of each caucus: Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Chris Van Hollen for the Democrats and Sen. Jon Kyl and Rep. Dave Camp for the Republicans.
At the start of the meeting, Baucus voiced confidence that the six tax men could work out a solution.
“We have full confidence that we can handle all of this very well,” Baucus said.
After the morning session had wrapped up, Baucus described the meeting as “very constructive, cordial, civil.”
The Bush tax cuts are due to expire on December 31 unless Congress extends them. Republicans want a permanent extension of all the tax cuts while Democrats want to extend the cuts only for individuals making under $200,000 a year and couples making under $250,000 a year. One option seen as an increasingly likely outcome is both parties agreeing on a temporary three-year extension of all the cuts.