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Demands softened, though little give between President Obama and John Boehner

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, makes a statement outside his office to respond to President Barack Obama, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, at the Capitol in Washington. President Barack Obama says he told Boehner he’s willing to negotiate with Republicans on their priorities, but not under the threat of “economic chaos.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner offered hints of possible compromise but also traded heated rhetoric Tuesday, a frustratingly inconclusive combination that left the eight-day partial government shutdown firmly in place and the threat of an unprecedented national default drawing closer.

"There's a crack there," Boehner said of the impasse near the end of a day of maneuvering at the White House and the Capitol. Yet the Ohio Republican added that it was not enough to warrant optimism.

Stocks fell significantly — the Dow Jones average by 159 points — as political gridlock endured. And, in the latest in a string of dire warnings, the International Monetary Fund said failure to raise America's debt limit could lead to default and disrupt worldwide financial markets, raise interest rates and push the U.S economy back into recession.

Republicans "don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs," Obama said at the White House. "They don't also get to say, you know, unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election, I'm going to cause a recession."

Even the deaths of U.S. servicemen over the weekend in Afghanistan were grist for the politicians. The Pentagon said that because of the partial shutdown it was unable to pay the customary death benefits to the survivors.

Boehner said Congress had passed and Obama signed legislation last week permitting the payments, adding it was "disgraceful" for the administration to interpret the measure otherwise. He said the House would clarify the issue with a new bill on Wednesday.

In Congress, a plan by Senate Democrats to raise the debt limit by $1 trillion to stave off a possible default drew little evidence of support from Republicans.

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