After some delay, President Obama this morning will finally sit down with congressional leaders from both parties for -- well, about an hour. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the meeting is likely to focus on tax cuts and START.
"I think this is the beginning of a new relationship with leaders in the House and the Senate," Gibbs said. "I think this is the beginning of a longer-term conversation about how we get to compromises on issues that we know are important for the American people."
The original plan was for a meeting followed by dinner in the White House residence, earlier this month. Republicans asked to reschedule and the whole thing got scaled way back. Notes Politico:
The problem for Obama is that GOP leaders have little incentive to cut any deals in the lame-duck congressional session — the better to capitalize on their new House majority in January — and have no appetite for major compromise on the extension of Bush-era tax cuts or their deficit-cutting platform.
So what can you reasonably get done in one hour? Not much. As soon as the White House announced the bipartisan sit-down, right after the election, it was forced into a defense crouch against claims it was a photo-op. And duly noted: Roll Call points out that there is still no coherent agenda for the lame-duck session of Congress.
Republicans and Democrats appear content to end the 111th Congress the way it started, by following a “change” election with a round of fiercely partisan fighting over an agenda that even many Democrats have little interest in.
In other words: Move along, nothing to see here.