Boehner: "no substantive progress" on "cliff" talks
Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET
House Speaker John Boehner offered a dim view of ongoing discussions with the White House on the so-called "fiscal cliff," saying there has been "no substantive progress" between the two parties over the past two weeks.
Boehner told reporters today that he is "disappointed" and that there is "a real danger" of going "off the cliff" as more than half a trillion dollars worth of tax hikes and spending cuts are set to go into effect in the New Year.
"This is not a game," Boehner said, adding that this is the time for the president to show "adult leadership."
Boehner's public criticism of the president and the negotiations come the morning after he spoke on the phone with Mr. Obama. He described the phone call as "frank and direct" and said his lowered perception of the talks emanates, in part, from that phone call and a morning meeting he had with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House legislative council Rob Nabors.
Boehner's harsh tone is a shift from previous statements, including one just yesterday when he said he was "optimistic" about the prospects of reaching a deal with the president. But even while he expressed optimism one day prior, there were signs that he was becoming dissatisfied with the direction of the talks. He criticized the president Wednesday saying "it's time for the president and Democrats to get serious about the spending problem that our country has."
Boehner continued to push the White House for spending cuts today. He said he is "seriously" trying to avert the fiscal crisis and has made a major concession by putting revenue on the table despite Republicans' existing stance against raising taxes. "Revenue is on the table but revenue was only on the table if there are serious spending cuts," he said.
Democrats, meanwhile, insist that spending cuts have been proposed. They point to previous proposals as well as legislation that has already been passed.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney responded to Boehner's demands, saying the president "has always proceeded with real numbers." Carney pointed to his oft-repeated statement that the president proposed $340 billion worth of cuts to Medicare and health care programs in his previous budget.
And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., points to legislation previously passed by Congress, including the Budget Control Act, which cut $1 trillion from the budget over 10 years as part of the 2011 deal to lift the debt ceiling.
"They keep saying where are the cuts? Over a trillion dollars, we have agreed to," Pelosi said today, pointing out that Democrats agreed to that without revenue increases.
Just minutes after Boehner finished his news conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said of Boehner that he doesn't "understand his brain." He added, "Republicans know where we stand. We've said it, we've said it, we've said it so many times."
Reid was referring to the Democrats' position on taxes and said they are "still waiting for a serious offer from Republicans."
"Really, now is the time for Republicans to move past this happy talk about revenues - ill-defined, of course - and put specifics on the table."
Boehner said Republicans presented "a framework" two weeks ago that would be "a down payment" that included spending cuts and revenue. He said the framework set in place "a process" to enact reforms to entitlement programs next year.
The president, meanwhile, has taken his argument on the road and held an event in Pennsylvania to sell to the public his plan to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year while extending the current tax rates for all other wage earners. Boehner criticized his trip as a "campaign style" rally, inferring that it's not productive to reaching a deal.
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