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Washington — President Obama declared the nearly two-hour bipartisan meeting at the White House today “a good start,” to a “new dialogue” that he said he hopes will “break though the noise and produce real gains.”

“I thought it was a productive meeting,” Obama said from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as Republicans were still speaking back on the Hill. “I thought that people came to it with a spirit of trying to work together, and I think it’s a good start as we move forward.”

The meeting today in the Roosevelt Room of the White House was the first chance the president and leaders from both parties have gathered formally since the midterm elections. The discussion today surrounded on the agenda items that need to get done in the weeks before Congress leaves town before the holiday.

First – on the Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, the president said that there was “broad agreement” that they need to work to get this resolved before the end of the year.

“Now there are still differences about how to get there,” Obama admitted. “I believe and the other Democrats who – in the room believe that this would add an additional $700 billion to our debt in the next 10 years. And I continue to believe that it would be unwise and unfair, particularly at a time when we’re contemplating deep budget cuts that require broad sacrifice.”

The president announced that he has appointed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and OMB Director Jack Lew to work with representatives from both parties to break what he called a “logjam” on this issue in the days ahead.

“I’ve asked the leaders to appoint members to help in this negotiation process. They agreed to do that. Now that process is beginning right away, and we expect to get some answers back over the next couple of days about how we can accomplish our key goal, which is to make sure the economy continues to grow and we are putting people back to work.”

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