Boehner: Obama "absent" from responsibilities

Updated 3:00 p.m. ET

(CBS News) House Speaker John Boehner had harsh words for President Obama on the looming "fiscal cliff," saying the president has failed to lead.

"Where's the president? Where's the leadership?" Boehner said before answering his own question. "Absent without leave."

Boehner said he is "not confident at all" that the president and Capitol Hill can solve the "fiscal cliff" by the end of the year, which is when numerous tax cuts are set to expire and automatic spending cuts will go into effect - a dramatic turn in federal budget policy expecting to total $600 billion. Economists say failure to act would lead to an increase in unemployment and would severely damage the already sluggish economic recovery, causing a "significant recession," according the Congressional Budget Office.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responded to the Speaker's comments, placing blame on Republicans for "intransigence and partisan obstructionism."

"The ball is in Speaker Boehner's court. Instead of going out for seven weeks, we call upon Speaker Boehner to work with Democrats across the aisle to restore fiscal responsibility with a balanced approach," Pelosi said in a statement.

Moody's Investors Service, a major credit rating agency, said Tuesday that if Washington does not address the pending fiscal cliff, the U.S.'s credit rating on its debt could be downgraded one level. Last year, the S&P cut the U.S.'s long-term credit rating to AA status last year after a divisive fight to raise the debt ceiling.

Boehner told reporters that the House of Representatives has already passed legislation to deal with the automatic budget cuts and tax hike but are stalled in the Senate. Any legislation that passes to deal with the looming crisis will have to be agreed upon by Democrats in the Senate and the president. Little action is expected until after the election.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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