President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders have begun their meeting at the White House to try and resolve the fiscal cliff.
“I want to welcome the congressional leadership here and thank them for their time,” Obama said at the top of the meeting in the Roosevelt Room, flanked by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “I think we’re all aware that we have some urgent business to do. We’ve got to make sure that taxes don’t go up on middle-class families, that our economy remains strong. That’s an agenda that Democrats and Republicans and independents, people all across the country share. So our challenge is to make sure that we are able to cooperate together work together find some common ground, make some tough compromises build some consensus to do the people’s business.”
Obama also wished Boehner — who turns 63 tomorrow — a happy birthday. He said they didn’t want to embarrass him with a cake.
“We didn’t know how many candles we’d need,” the president quipped.
“Yeah, right,” Boehner said with a smile. The two men, seated next to each other, then shook hands.
Obama did not sing happy birthday, nor the semifamous “Boehner Birthday song,” which can be found on YouTube.
Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are also attending.
Also spotted by the pool were White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew and economic adviser Gene Sperling.