The Corner

Saturday Night at Negotiations: White House Takes a Walk on Leadership

John Boehner’s update on talks with the White House, provided by his office after the Speaker had a phone conversation with the president tonight: “Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes.  I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”

Behind the scenes, according to those close to the negotiations, Boehner has been pushing the president for the better part of the year for a dramatic deal — one that would include entitlement and other reforms. That the White House would even discuss such a thing, of course, sent the Left wild when it hit the news this week

According to a source close to the negotiations, on Friday the Speaker proposed tax-reform principles as a guarantee against tax increases. 

That did not fly with the White House. 

“The White House would not agree with the core elements of tax reform proposed by the Speaker,” Republican familiar with the talks says. “A gulf also remains between the Speaker and the White House on the issue of medium and long-term structural reforms.” 

As a Hill source told Reuters’ James Pethokoukis earlier today: “WH is demanding major, unambiguous tax hikes. To get spending caps & entitlement tweaks, greater economic pain appears to be the WH’s asking price.”

If there is a smaller deal, which now appears likely, Boehner will still be insistent on the same basic standard he would have been in a bigger one: spending reforms and the cuts that exceed the amount of the debt-limit hike, according to those close to the negotiations. 

How about this? Small deal for now and new president — with a House and maybe even Senate that will work with him — in 2012. 

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