And this time, he also declined to share a single detail from the five pages of notes he took.
The Roberts turnabout and the potential detente it suggests was exactly the kind of result Obama was hoping for when he launched three days of face-to-face engagement on Capitol Hill last week. But for all the substantive discussion, there were no substantial breakthroughs as all sides dug in for what is expected to be a long slog through the budgetary maze that is expected to last well into the summer.
Next week, the Republican-controlled House expects to pass an austere budget built around huge savings from entitlement programs, a dramatically different approach from the Senate Democratic plan that is anchored on $1 trillion in new taxes and modest changes to entitlements.
“Other than that, we’re close,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), joked Wednesday as he left the 90-minute meeting the House GOP held with Obama.
In short, no one believes the more than two-year standoff on taxes and entitlements is any closer to resolution than before the offensive began. Obama leaves Tuesday for a trip to Israel, and Congress will adjourn Thursday for a two-week spring break, meaning there won’t be another in-person meeting between lawmakers and Obama until at least mid-April.
Still, there is an emerging consensus that the effort was not a waste of time and that more meetings — perhaps in smaller groups in a more work-friendly setting — are ahead. “I don’t think this was a one-off thing,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), a member of House leadership, said Friday.
Now, with a reelection under his belt and no campaigns of his own to wage, Democrats said, Obama signaled this week that he wanted to go to the Republican turf, take lawmakers’ questions and speak directly to them about his proposals.
So much of Obama’s talks with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2011 and last year were done behind closed doors that some rank-and-file Republicans heard about the president’s offers only through the speaker’s detail-averse presentations or from conservative news outlets.
Leaving the Wednesday meeting with House Republicans, Rep. Kevin Brady (Tex.) said the president was very specific in offering to use a different formula for cost-of-living adjustments, meaning less-generous Social Security benefits, and to increase Medicare premiums on higher-income seniors.