House Speaker John Boehner has walked away from negotiations with the White House over a major deal on the debt ceiling.
News of the abrupt end of talks came during a 30-plus-minute White House press conference late Friday afternoon, during which President Obama claimed he “couldn’t get a phone call returned” from Boehner and complained of being “left at the altar” by Republican leadership.
After outlining the basics of the deal on offer to Boehner — $1 trillion-plus in discretionary spending cuts; $650 billion in unspecified cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; and $1.2 trillion in increased tax revenue that would not have raised rates — Obama blamed the intransigence of House Republicans for the collapse of talks. He questioned “how serious [House Republicans are] about debt and deficit reduction” and asked repeatedly whether they “can say yes to anything.”
Obama revealed that Republicans had agreed to a roughly four-to-one ratio of spending cuts to tax increases in the deal, under the proviso that the new tax revunue come only from the elimination of subsidies and other deductions. But Boehner balked when the president demanded that tax increases at least match the amount to be cut from entitlement programs.
Saying that Washington has “now run out of time” to reach a major deal on the debt ceiling, Obama has summoned Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to a White House meeting set for 11:00 A.M. on Saturday. He warned that the two sides must be able to show progress towards a deal by the time markets open on Monday.
Obama said his “only bottom line” for a deal now is that it raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 elections. He also came closer to a full endorsement of the McConnell-Reid plan that would, in short, seek to put the perceived political liability on the White House by allowing Obama to raise the ceiling via veto in exchange for up to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts. “I’m willing to take the responsibility” for the decision to issue more debt, Obama said.
UPDATE: At a press conference just now, House Speaker John Boehner confirmed that Republican leadership had agreed to some $800 billion in revenue as part of a deal with the White House, but said that President Obama yesterday made a last-minute demand for an additional $400 billion, which Boehner said would have had to have come from “raising taxes . . . on job-creators.” Boehner also said that he was “not really interested” in a short-term debt-ceiling increase, but would instead work with bipartisan leaders in the Senate on a long-term solution.