Boehner walks out on debt limit talks

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio talks about the break down of debt ceiling talks with the White House during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off talks with President Barack Obama Friday night on a deal to make major cuts in federal spending and avert a threatened government default, sending already uncertain compromise efforts into instant crisis.

Within minutes, an obviously peeved Obama virtually ordered congressional leaders to the White House Saturday morning for fresh negotiations on raising the nation’s debt limit. “We’ve got to get it done. It is not an option not to do it,” he declared.

For the first time since talks began, he declined to offer assurances, when asked, that default would be avoided. Moments later, however, he said he was confident of that outcome.

At a rebuttal news conference of his own a short while later in the Capitol, Boehner said, “I want to be entirely clear, no one wants default on the full faith and credit of the United States government, and I’m convinced that we will not.”

Barring action by Congress by an Aug 2 deadline, the Treasury will be unable to pay all its bills. Officials say a default could destabilize the already weakened U.S. economy and send major ripple effects across the globe.

Even by the recent standards of divided government, Boehner’s decision triggered an extraordinary evening as first the Democratic president and then the Republican speaker maneuvered for political position on an issue of enormous national import.

Unspoken, yet unmistakable in all the brinkmanship was the 2012 election campaign, still 18 months away, with the White House and both houses of Congress at stake.

In a letter circulated earlier to the House Republican rank and file, Boehner said he had withdrawn from the talks because the president wanted to raise taxes and was reluctant to agree to cuts in benefit programs.

The disconnect was “not because of different personalities but because of different visions for our country,” he said, and he announced he would now seek agreement with the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Obama was having none of that, announcing instead a morning White House meeting where he said he expected to hear proposed solutions from the top leaders of both parties in both houses.

“One of the questions the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is, ‘Can they say yes to anything?'” Obama said.

The president avoided direct criticism of Boehner, although he did mention that his phone calls to the speaker had gone unreturned during the day. One administration official said the president had tried to reach Boehner four times. Asked about the spurned calls, Boehner said he didn’t think his relationship with Obama had been “irreparably damaged.”

He said he would attend the Saturday meeting at the White House.

Private, sometimes-secret negotiations had veered uncertainly for weeks, generating reports as late as Thursday that the two sides were possibly closing in on an agreement to cut $3 trillion in spending and add as much as $1 trillion in possible revenue while increasing the government’s borrowing authority of $2.4 trillion.

That triggered a revolt among Democrats who expressed fears the president was giving away too much in terms of cuts to Medicare and Social Security while getting too little by way of additional revenues

“Failing to raise the debt ceiling would do irreparable harm to our credit standing, would undermine our ability to lead on global economic issues and would damage our economy,” former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a Republican, told reporters during the day.

Current administration officials and Federal reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have said much the same thing for weeks — while gridlock persisted in Congress.

Obama said his only requirement for an agreement was legislation that provides the Treasury enough borrowing authority to tide the government over through the 2012 election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed in a written statement, saying a shorter-term extension was unacceptable.

His counterpart, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell supported Boehner for “insisting on reducing spending and opposing the president’s call for higher taxes on American families and job creators.”

Not for the first time, he said, “it’s time now for the debate to move out of a room in the White House and onto the House and Senate floors.”

The two Senate leaders will be among the lawmakers at the White House meeting called by the president, presumably joined by Boehner and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.

At the same time Obama and Boehner sought to define the clash to their political advantage, their aides provided details of the talks that had ended without an agreement.

Republican aides said the White House had demanded additional tax increases during the week, in the wake of a proposal by the bipartisan “Gang of Six” in the Senate, who called for an overhaul of the tax code that would increase revenue by $1 trillion over a decade.

Additionally, the aides said the two sides were not able to bridge their differences over the triggers designed to force Congress to enact both tax reform and cuts to Medicare and other benefit programs by early next year.

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15 Responses to "Boehner walks out on debt limit talks"

  1. bmclellan  July 23, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Neither of these two asinine projectiles are concerned with anything but positioning their party for the 2012 elections which is a direct violation of their oath to serve the people above all else.
    All this gnashing of teeth is for show, votes, and sound bites.

    Each is confident the line they grasp will swing them to victory and are too arrogant to realize many tyrants before them have been hung with that self same piece of egotistical gossamer..Hack…..

  2. Sandune  July 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I often wonder if anyone who gets involved in the following year’s campaigns ever brings up the failings of the incumbents and the new potential candidates. We go through this stuff every 2 to 4 years and the problems never get discussed.

    When we cover up for our candidates, it gives them carte blanche to continue to keep up their own issues. It makes me think that I should have worked harder for Perot. Perot knew the voters did not understand economics and saw the government as a safety net rather than a long term extension of intelligent experience.

    Look how many years we here at CHB blame the government for our failures and yet we never look more deeply in what the government should and should not do. We elect the government and we show poor planning.

  3. Davld Clark  July 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Do the banks control tthe goverment or does the government control the bamks? If yhe banks are running the country, we need to go after them, not the pupputs in Washington. Blame the puppet master, not the puppets.

  4. Davld Clark  July 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    The bankers seem to think they can own the country by putting it into debt, and the pupets in Washingyon jump when their strings are pulled, So much for government of the peole, by the people, for the people,

  5. bmclellan  July 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Nemo, photo alert !

    Granted that our speaker’s eyeball proximity too one another is borderline,
    the ones with semi popularity always have shifty positions, neurally and beyond.

    Maybe we should grant our children days into night with a working Justice dept…Seems fair to me .

    Ever a dream became, the coming of man displayed in the gallery of ineptitude, our hearts would burst of truth at our shortcomings..
    Wrangle in reverse is not an option in war…

    Especially this well orchestrated fiasco !

  6. Carl Nemo  July 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Bryan, that’s what chain-smoking cigarettes while baking his brains out, what little he might have under the sun, playing endless rounds of ‘cow pasture pool’ while not tending to the serious business of “We the People” rather than placating the needs of his ‘No Taxes Allowed’ wealthy patrons… / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  7. bmclellan  July 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Sir, I’m convinced we are equally Exacerbated. hack..

  8. Davld Clark  July 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    It is like trying to walk out of a bad theatrical performance when the doors are locked.

  9. griff  July 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Key words from the article:

    unable, globe, faith and credit, raise taxes, divided, brinkmanship, political position, spending, trillion, borrowing, authority, failing, harm, undermine, private, unacceptable, clash, political advantage, tax increases.

    REVOLT

  10. Davld Clark  July 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Was there any mintion o f foriegn aid? If we can’t pay our own bills, how and the hell can we afford to pay someone else’s?

  11. eve  July 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    David Clark is spot on!

    Foreign aid should be ended to ALL nations. Every last single one, no exceptions.
    Why then, is it not being put to the logical end?

    Dual-citizens from a foreign nation, embedded in high positions of political power in DC THAT’S why!

    THEY are making sure the floodgates stay open for their foreign nation.

    Sure, a lot of countries get foreign aid from the US, BUT … one country gets more than all of the others and the amount keeps increasing.

    This same country has dual-citizens in powerful positions in the US administration and has for years. The other countries do NOT have dual-citizens in positions of power in the US administrations.

    Coincidence?
    Hardly.

    Until this issue is address and then remedied (merely addressing it will solve nothing) we will continue to suffer as a people and a nation.

    Our so-called representatives are being paid off to represent this nation which is thousands of miles away, when there are problems that need addressed right here in the “Good ‘ol US of A.”

    • woody188  July 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      I tried to point this out before, and even included a list of dual citizens, but was told in no uncertain terms that I was out of line and crazy.

  12. Carl Nemo  July 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    They look upon our money as their money; the U.S. Treasury their personal ‘piggybank’. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  13. eve  July 25, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Yes Carl Nemo, you are correct as usual, although this time I wish you were not (for all of our sakes).

    John Boehner and the like are nothing but political actors.
    They are riding high on the hog while Americans continue to lose their jobs, homes, families and hope.

    Doug Thompson’s motto for this sight is SO spot on.

    Those who signed off on the “free trade” agreements should be removed from office immediately and replaced with “real” Americans.
    Our jobs have been shipped overseas.
    The wars continue to be waged.
    The military bases built.
    The Fed prints more unaccounted for money which devalues our currency and these actors playing politicians act like they’re doing us a favor.

    I’m sure they sleep much better than the single mom who may lose her job (or already has).
    I’m sure they sleep much better then the couple who are about to lose their home.

    Yes, those golf courses with their manicured lawns and cozy lounges must be hard to endure.
    How do they sleep at night?
    I’m thinking very well.

  14. Davld Clark  July 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    How can the economy be bad when the banks zre doing very well? Did I mention that the Bush family made its fortune in banking. Under Bush One the savings and loans got cleaned out. Under Bush Two yhe U.S. Treasury got cleaned out. Go figure.

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