On Friday morning, President Obama told reporters that he’d urged congressional leader to identify a plan on how to proceed on the debt limit “over the next 24 to 36 hours.”

As is now clear, that deadline, like all of the previous deadlines, has come and gone. Republican leaders have been in contact with White House officials and Democratic leaders — House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesperson told reporters yesterday that “meetings have been occurring” — but meaningful progress is elusive.

That said, it’d be an exaggeration to say everyone has returned to their respective corners. I’m not sure what more there is to talk about, but as the pressure increases and the deadline looms closer, at least there’s a flurry of activity.

Following President Barack Obama’s meeting Thursday with congressional leaders, “activity and progress” has been made in deficit discussions, White House budget director Jack Lew said Sunday.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Lew said congressional leaders are engaged in “substantial conversations to make sure that as a minimum” they raise the debt limit and establish committees to find spending cuts.

“Quite a bit has been going on since the meeting,” Lew said, adding that it’s “not insignificant” that leaders understand that the debt limit needs to be extended on Aug. 2.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports the ambitious “Grand Bargain” still has its champions, even if no one thinks it can happen before the debt-ceiling deadline. The idea, apparently, is to draw up a blueprint, “possibly by the end of the year,” once the current crisis is resolved (if the current crisis is resolved).

I’m sure the main players in this process know far more about the intricacies of these talks than I do, but from my limited vantage point, I’m at a loss to understand how anyone actually hopes to achieve such a compromise in this Congress. It’s not as if House Republicans are suddenly going to become reasonable later this year.

In the meantime, in the very short term, John Podesta believes the McConnell/Reid “Plan B” compromise is probably the only way to prevent a disaster. Given Podesta’s knowledge of the White House’s thinking, I’m inclined to believe him.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.