“We have now run out of time,” a visibly angry Obama said during an impromptu White House news conference held after Boehner (R-Ohio) called to say he was walking out on the talks for the second time in two weeks — again citing differences over taxes. Now, Obama said, “one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is: Can they say yes to anything?”
Late Friday, a senior GOP aide said House leaders had “no idea” how to craft a plan to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit that could win approval from the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House. Talks were underway between Boehner and Senate leaders, but House Republicans continued to object to a developing Senate strategy to authorize Obama to raise the debt limit through 2013 without explicit congressional approval.
Ahead of the Saturday talks, a House GOP aide signaled that the speaker’s most likely position would be to push for a shorter-term deal. Both sides have identified more than $1 trillion in cuts, and Boehner’s camp suggested that some of those reductions could be used to meet the Republican demand of lifting the debt ceiling by cutting more than the dollar value of that increase in borrowing authority.
The president has repeatedly objected to any short-term deal, calling it “kicking the can down the road,” because there is a likelihood that the two sides would reach the same gridlock next year once such an extension was set to expire, and he did so again on Friday.
But on Saturday morning, the GOP aide said Obama was just trying to avoid dealing with the issue next year, when he will face reelection.
“Now, we do not know what size or shape a final package will take, but it would be terribly unfortunate if the president was willing to veto a debt-limit increase simply because its timing would not be ideal for his reelection campaign.
“We want the most significant deficit-reduction possible, but linking the full faith and credit of the United States to presidential campaign politics is not a defensible position,” the aide added, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss Boehner’s strategy.
Boehner was clear Friday about the reasons for his decision to leave negotiations. The White House, he told reporters at his own news conference, “insisted on raising taxes.”
The collapse of the talks provided a dramatic end to a whirlwind week that began last Friday when Boehner alerted administration officials that he was ready to try again “to do something big” to control the debt, as a GOP aide put it. In the ensuing days, the two sides forged common ground on a two-stage strategy for raising the debt limit and cutting more than $4 trillion out of the federal budget through 2021.