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House Republicans Talk Spending Cuts With Obama at White House Meeting

House Republican leaders said they were able to reach common ground with the president on the need to cut spending and grow the economy, after they dined with President Obama in the Oval Office Wednesday afternoon. 

The top three Republicans in the chamber had lunch with the president and vice president -- a rare bipartisan display -- after the GOP released a blueprint of its proposed spending cuts for the remainder of this year's budget. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the group discussed those cuts at the Oval Office as well as the issues of trade and regulation that he said is hurting small business. 

"It was a very good lunch, and we were able to find enough common ground, I think, to show the American people that we're willing to work on their behalf and willing to do it together," he told reporters. "The American people expect Washington to cut spending in order to grow jobs in America." 

House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the bulk of the meeting was spent talking about ways to grow the economy. "It was a beginning," he said. 

House GOP Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., described the conversation as "robust," and said they reached some agreement on the need to cut spending. 

"We had agreement on that. I guess the particulars and the details will be where the disagreements may lie," Cantor said. "But we're coming out of this lunch committed to trying to do that, because the economy so desperately needs us to work together." 

The moment of harmony comes as the two sides of the aisle prepare to engage over a spending plan for the rest of 2011 as well as one for next year, and over a looming vote on whether to raise the federal government's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. The GOP earlier Wednesday released a list of dozens of proposed cuts in its budget proposal for the rest of the fiscal year -- a proposal the party claimed made $58 billion in non-defense spending reductions. 

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that the president found the meeting to be constructive and reiterated that the two sides agreed on the need to cut spending and reduce the deficit. He said "outdated" regulations were another topic, as well as foreign policy as it pertains to Iraq and Afghanistan. Gibbs stressed that the session was not for negotiating. 

"This was an opportunity to listen to each other and to figure out where that common ground is," Gibbs said.