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Boehner's mixed messages

AP

House Speaker John Boehner, right, accompanied by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, today.

From NBC’s Luke Russert and Domenico Montanaro
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gave mixed messages after his meeting at the White House on whether both sides were closer or not to an agreement.

On the one hand, Boehner said:

"This is an important step that we face today in order to get real cuts, the White House is proposing cuts far beyond things that we would have imagined so we want to get an agreement and we want to keep the government open."

But, on the other:

"They'd like to insist $33 billion is the top number. That is not acceptable; we will continue to fight for the largest cuts possible and policy riders."

Boehner said it was a “good discussion” at the White House , but “there was no agreement reached” and “conversations will continue.”

“We've made clear that we are fighting for the largest spending cuts possible, real spending cuts here,” he continued. “No smoke and mirrors. We it clear that there was never an agreement at $33 billion dollars and that we are going to continue again the largest cuts possible. We aren't going to allow the Senate or the White House to put us in a box with two bad options."

It’s not clear what the smoke or the mirrors are. But $33 billion would be the largest cut in history, according to the Washington Post. (The libertarian-leaning think-tank The Cato Institute disagrees with that.)

*** UPDATE *** Boehner spokesman Michael Steel sends along this response: “Boehner was simply saying that the Democrats who run Washington are pushing ‘smoke and mirrors’ budget gimmicks beyond anything we would imagine supporting.”