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Deal on debt ceiling 'not close', says White House

A spokesman for US President Barack Obama has denied reports that Democrats and Republicans have reached a deal on raising the US debt ceiling as an August 2 deadline to avoid a default draws closer.

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REUTERS - The White House said on Thursday it saw momentum for a “balanced” deficit deal, but it denied reports that President Barack Obama and Republican House of Representatives speaker John Boehner were close to a pact.

The New York Times reported that the Obama administration had informed Democratic congressional leaders that Obama and Boehner were starting to close a “major budget deal” with substantial spending cuts and a tax overhaul.

White House officials said the report was wrong.

“We are not close to a deal,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Carney said, however, that the White House believed there was momentum behind the idea of what Obama has called a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction, which would include some tax increases a scenario most Republicans oppose.

“We believe there is momentum behind the idea of a balanced approach to a significant agreement,” Carney said.

Discussions were ongoing, he and other officials said.

“While we are keeping the lines of communication open, there is no ‘deal’ and no progress to report,” a spokesman for Boehner said.

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