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A fight to the death? Or a deal?

In 1993 appearance on "Meet the Press" during the debate over the budget deal Congress then was considering, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) put the arguments about taxes and spending into perspective.

MR. RUSSERT: Is the energy tax a fight until death, or are you willing
to compromise a little bit with Senator Boren, modify if a bit--

SENATOR MOYNIHAN: Fight until death over taxes? Oh no. Women, country,
God, things like that. Taxes? No.

(Moynihan's response is at eight minutes into this video.)

It's that kind of perspective that has comforted the glass-half-full observers of the current showdown over the debt ceiling. Will political leaders truly fight to the death -- or in this case, fight to default -- over taxes and spending?

Well, the New York Times is reporting -- from congressional sources -- that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are closing in on a deal.

The Obama administration has informed Democratic Congressional leaders that President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner were starting to close in on a major budget deal that would enact substantial spending cuts and seek future revenues through a tax overhaul, Congressional officials said Thursday...

The Congressional leaders, whose help Mr. Obama would need to bring a compromise forward, were told that the new revenue tied to the looming agreement to increase the debt limit by Aug. 2 would be produced in 2012 through a tax code rewrite that would lower individual and corporate rates, close loopholes, end tax breaks and make other adjustments to produce revenue gains.

Officials knowledgeable about the conversations between the administration and Congressional leaders said the details of the potential package remained unknown but they presumed it would include cuts and adjustments in most federal programs, including Medicare.

But all sides have shot down the New York Times report. "While we are keeping the lines of communication open, there is no 'deal' and no progress to report," a Boehner spokesman tells NBC's Luke Russert. "We are still focused on the 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' bill that passed the House with bipartisan support, and hope the Senate will take it up as soon as possible."

And White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer tweets:

Wrong. POTUS pushing for biggest deal possible, but nothing new MT @nytimes: NYT NEWS ALERT: Obama and Boehner Close to Major Budget Deal

NBC's Chris Donovan contributed to this report.