TPM News

Updated at 8:16 p.m.

A Sunday evening White House summit on debt negotiations has concluded with no signs of progress after a weekend full of fits and starts in the talks between President Obama, Congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Throughout the past few days, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has sent mixed signals that the debt-ceiling needs to be raised while backtracking from attempts to reach a grand bargain to reduce the nation's long-term debt.

After the Sunday evening meeting, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer announced via Twitter that talks would continue Monday and Obama would hold a press conference at 11 a.m. but did not immediately characterize the state of play. Statements from Congressional leaders indicated that Democrats and Republicans were still locking horns on the key issues of tax increases and changes to entitlement programs.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blamed Congressional Democrats' refusal to greenlight any changes to Medicare and Social Security for the ongoing stalemate.

"The members will meet again tomorrow, though it's disappointing that the President is unable to bring his own party around to the entitlement reform that he put on the table," McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in an e-mailed statement. "And it's baffling that the President and his party continue to insist on massive tax hikes in the middle of a jobs crisis while refusing to take significant action on spending reductions at a time of record deficits."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement after the talks, saying Demorats are still squarely opposed to Medicare block grants to the states.

She said she came into the weekend hoping to achieve a grand bargain and "is still hopeful for a large bipartisan agreement, which means more stability for our economy, more growth and jobs, and more deficit reduction over a longer period of time."

"This package must do no harm to the middle class or to economic growth," Pelosi stressed. "It must also protect Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries, and we continue to have serious concerns about shifting billions in Medicaid costs to the states."

While a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said his boss remains "firmly committed to getting the most robust deal possible," and during the meeting, stressed the need for an approach that is "balanced between spending and revenues, in terms of timing, specificity and dollars."

"Senator Reid believes the stakes are too high for Republicans to keep taking the easy way out, and he is committed to meeting every day until we forge a deal, however long that takes," said the spokesman.

The meeting began at 6:10 in the White House Cabinet Room with President Obama seated at the center of the table, flanked by Reid and Boehner. The dress code was appropriately casual for a sultry Sunday evening in July. No one wore ties, opting for open-collar shirts and blazers instead.

A White House pool reporter shouted, "Mr. President, can you get a deal done in 10 days?"

Obama responded: "We need to."

Follow this reporter on Twitter: @susancrabtree

Jumping off Tim Pawlenty's professed admiration for Lady Gaga's gay anthem "Born This Way," NBC's David Gregory asked the presidential candidate if he thought gays were, in fact, born into their orientation. According to Pawlenty, the answer is above his pay grade.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet the 2012 GOPers: Tim Pawlenty]

Pawlenty told Gregory on Meet The Press that when it came to whether homosexuality was a choice or an innate part of a person's character, "the science in that regard is in dispute" and that it was unclear whether it was "behavioral or partly genetic."

"There's no scientific conclusion that it's genetic," he said. "We don't know that. So we don't know to what extent, you know, it's behavioral and-- that's something that's been debated by scientists for a long time. But as I understand the science, there's no current conclusion that it's genetic."

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House Speaker John Boehner is abandoning discussions with the White House on a large-scale debt deal slated to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction. The bone of contention is Boehner's insistence on no tax increases in the deal. Instead, Boehner said the talks should focus on reaching a smaller debt-reduction deal.

"Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes," Boehner said in the statement.

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It didn't take long for TPM readers to identify the two likeminded conservatives with whom Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) shared two pricey $350 bottles of Pinot Noir Wednesday night.

The two names repeatedly flooded into TPM's e-mail since our story on Ryan's big spending night first ran Friday, and we spent the next 24 hours trying to reach the pair to confirm their identities and get their side of the story.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Hey Big Spenders: What Else Could Wealthy Candidates Buy With All That Campaign Cash?]

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Tim Pawlenty and his top staff are increasingly downplaying the importance of Iowa in interviews, a strange turn given its central importance to his campaign so far.

Pawlenty told reporters that "this week is the first time that I've campaigned in earnest in Iowa," according to the Des Moines Register despite the fact that he's been pouring huge amounts of time and resources into the state for months.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet the 2012 GOPers: Tim Pawlenty]

Earlier this week, top aide Vin Weber lowered expectations for the campaign by labeling Pawlenty's rival Minnesotan Michele Bachmann the frontrunner, who has been surging in the polls.

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Tim Pawlenty has brought on his latest trash-talk against a political rival -- going for some down-home, rural, scatological humor against President Obama.

"Anybody can stand up here and flap their jaw and give a speech," Pawlenty told a crowd of about 70 people in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet the 2012 GOPers: Tim Pawlenty]

"We've had Barack Obama campaigning to be president for the better part of three years, with all of his soaring rhetoric, with all of his broken promises, with all of his nonsense. I mean, he's like a manure spreader in a windstorm."

Ah...but would he say that to Obama's face?

The man with alleged ties to the white supremacist movement suspected of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. parade is questioning whether the device he's accused of leaving in a backpack can really be called a "weapon of mass destruction."

Kevin Harpham's attorneys wrote late last month that none of the four definitions of a "weapon of mass destruction" in federal law referenced an "improvised explosive device."

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