The adage in Washington is that if nobody is talking about what they’re really talking about, that’s a good sign for getting a deal.

In what may be just such a positive sign, President Barack Obama, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and their aides on Thursday seemed to be zipping their lips on the behind-the-scenes fiscal cliff talks after a private Wednesday phone call between the two men. Of course, both sides also continued their public relations fight over debt and taxes. …

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney likewise declined to give details on the call or the ongoing discussions, beyond saying that the administration still believes that there is time to reach a fiscal cliff deal — provided Republicans agree that higher tax rates on the wealthy have to be part of it.