With the sequestration deadline a week away, President Barack Obama called Republican congressional leaders Thursday to discuss the sharp cuts that loom over the government.

In what may be a resumption of negotiations to head off the $85 billion in cuts, Obama spoke to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The conversations were "good," White House spokesman Jay Carney said without giving details.

McConnell’s spokesman told Reuters it was the first outreach from Obama since the New Year's Eve "fiscal cliff" deal.

Obama has expressed doubt a deal can be struck by March 1.

"At this point, we continue to reach out to Republicans and say this is not going to be good for the economy, it's not going to be good for ordinary people," he told radio talk show host Al Sharpton. "But I don't know if they're going to move and that's what we're going to have to keep pushing over the next seven, eight days."

Later Thursday, Carney and Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck parried on Twitter over Obama’s insistence on replacing the cuts with a mix of tax increases and targeted spending reductions, an approach that Obama says would strike a balance between revenue and cuts, the Associated Press reported.

“Oh, Jay. Was it balanced when the president got $600B in revenue with no spending cuts just last month?” Buck tweeted at one point.

“Oh, Brendan, back in real world, POTUS has signed into law (more than) $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction, 2/3 of it spending cuts,” Carney replied, using the acronym for president of the United States.