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Fiscal cliff negotiations? They were...'constructive'

Updated 3:45 p.m. EST
House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)
House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama

Updated 3:45 p.m. EST

Following a meeting between congressional leaders and President Obama at the White House Friday to discuss a way forward to addressing the country’s so-called fiscal cliff, there was one word on the tip of attendees' collective tongues: "constructive."

Obama and House Speaker John Boehner must once again seek to find a bipartisan deal that the White House, the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives can agree on before automatic, year-end tax increases and spending cuts are implemented.

"We had a very constructive meeting with the president to talk about America's fiscal problem," Boehner said in a press conference following the meeting. "I outlined a framework that deals with reforming our tax code and reforming our spending. To show our seriousness, we've put revenue on the table, as long as it is accompanied by significant spending cuts."

Boehner was flanked by fellow attendees House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell--all of whom echoed the "constructive" comment.

Sen. McConnell echoed Boehner by saying it was a "constructive meeting" but that entitlement reform must be an option to move forward.

The conciliatory tone carried over to the Democrat side.

"We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out," Sen. Reid said. "We're both going to have to give up some of the things that we know are a problem."

“I think we're all aware that we have some urgent business to do," the president said at a brief press conference ahead of the meeting.  "We need to ensure taxes don't go up on middle class families, that our economy remains strong, and we're creating jobs."

Seated next to Speaker Boehner at the time, the president also took time to joke about the Republican’s upcoming birthday before shaking hands with him on camera.

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The president also found the meeting "constructive," according to a White House statement following the hour-long meeting.

"The president and the leadership had a constructive meeting and agreed to do everything possible to find a solution that averts the so-called "fiscal cliff," and to work together to find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit that includes both revenues and cuts in spending and encourages our long-term economic and job growth," the White House said.

The newly re-elected president has said that he does not want to see taxes raised on “98% of Americans,” but that the wealthy (those making more than $250,000 a year) should be asked to pay a bit more.

Vice President Joe Biden also attended the meeting.