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Latest debt meeting: "Better than expected"

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CBS
CBS

The most recent meeting on crafting a deal to raise the debt limit has concluded - it lasted nearly two hours - and while there were no breakthroughs, a senior White House official told CBS News the meeting went "better than expected" given the low expectations going in.

The official said the White House still believes a deal to reduce the national debt by $4 trillion over ten years is possible, despite indications from the GOP that it is not feasible. The official said lawmakers are making progress, though the official acknowledged that there was no specific progress on a key issue: including revenues as a part of any deal.

Republicans say they are open only to spending cuts to reduce the deficit, while Democrats are insisting that any deal include increases in an increase in revenues - either tax increases or the closure of tax loopholes. The official said the White House believes there is a way to define revenues in a way that allows Republicans to accept them as part of a final deal.

A Republican official familiar with the talks, meanwhile, said House Speaker John Boehner "urged the President to show leadership" during the meeting and to present a plan that could pass Congress.

"The Speaker also urged the President and Democratic leaders to work with Republicans pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, as a way to reinforce the restraints on future spending that will have to be in any agreement that passes Congress," the official said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said following the meeting that raising taxes remain the key issue. He said everything Mr. Obama has put on the table could pass Congress - except for revenue increases.

Cantor, who is seen as aligning more closely with the hard-line GOP freshman than Boehner, added that "nothing can get through the House right now."

The parties are expected to meet again on Wednesday. They are seeking a deal that would reduce the debt by trillions of dollars in exchange for a vote to increase the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit. Without action by August 2, the White House says, the nation will face economic catastrophe.

Asked how the meeting went, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin seemed to acknowledge the continued divide between the two sides.

"No one walked out of the room," Durbin said.

Durbin added that a plan floated by Sen. Mitch McConnellto give Mr. Obama chief responsibility over increasing the debt limit was discussed. The senior White House official said the White House does not want to adopt the McConnell plan but could eventually consider it as a last-ditch option to avoid default.

The debt limit fight: A primer