President Obama stormed into the briefing room this evening to proclaim that deficit negotiations had broken down, accusing House Speaker Boehner and Republicans of walking away from a deal because they refused to include any tax increases.
I just got a call about a half hour ago from Speaker Boehner, who indicated that he was going to be walking away from the negotiations that we’ve been engaged in here at the White House for a big deficit reduction and debt reduction package.
The agreement that was on the table apparently would have reduced the deficit more than $3 trillion, including what Obama said was $1.2 trillion in “additional revenues.” This, he said, would have been less than the Senate “Gang of Six” proposal that some Republicans have signed onto.
But Republicans accused the White House of backing away from an earlier commitment to take at least some of those tax increases off the table, putting them back on after the Gang of Six proposal emerged the middle of the week.
Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor claimed a deal was never close. In a letter to his caucus, Boehner said Obama was “not serious” about deficit reduction unless accompanied by large tax increases, and he said he will now turn to negotiating with Senate Democrats.
This probably means Boehner will look at the plan by Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell – to which Democratic Leader Harry Reid is amenable – to have Obama ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling in installments through next summer, without major deficit reduction.
Obama said he would accept the responsibility of asking Congress to raise the debt limit.
They can come up with any plans that they want, and bring them up here, and we will work on them. The only bottom line that I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013.
And the reason for it is we’ve now seen how difficult it is to get any kind of deal done . . .
So they will come down here at 11 o’clock tomorrow. I expect them to have an answer in terms of how they intend to get this thing done over the course of the next week.
Obama has asked Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders to come to the White House at 11 am Saturday for another meeting, insisting that before markets open Monday they concur on a path toward lifting the debt ceiling.
Obama was clearly trying to set himself up as an adult who tried and failed to convince unruly, rigid Republicans to go for a “balanced” deal.
It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal and frankly, if you look at the commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done.
Obama wondered if Republicans “can say yes to anything.”
But the president left out that his own budget proposal earlier this year did not come close to the kind of deficit reduction being discussed now, and that he was only pressed into his current posture of deep concern about stanching the flow of red ink after Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.