From far opposite corners of the Washington boxing ring, President Obama and Speaker Boehner threw their best political punches Monday night. But there was no knockout; no blood was spilled. The deficit reduction/debt limit negotiations remain at a standstill.
In a near-15-minute nationally televised speech, Mr. Obama argued for a "balanced" approach to deficit reduction - which he insists must include new taxes.
"Let's ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions," pleaded the president. He said his "balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much."
Anticipating the president's argument, Boehner offered his own definition to the president's "balanced" approach. He said in Washington, that means "we spend more...you pay more."
As a former operator of a small business, Boehner was emphatic in stating that the tax increases the president wants "will destroy jobs."
Mr. Obama focused mostly on the latest Republican version of a deficit reduction bill, but it was clear he views the Democratic version as inadequate as well for not including new tax revenue and sharing the sacrifice.
He again called on Leaders of both chamber and both parties to "come up with a fair compromise that can pass both houses of Congress. By that he means: "a compromise I can sign."
Mr. Obama said he was confident a compromise can be reached if "enough members of both parties will ultimately put politics aside and help us make progress."
Reading between the lines he would have Americans believes that his views on deficit reduction are less political than Republicans'.
Speaker Boehner argued that there is no stalemate. And if there's compromising to be done, it needs to come from Mr. Obama.
If the president signs the latest version of the Republican deficit reduction bill, said Boehner, "the crisis atmosphere" that Mr. Obama created "will simply disappear."
Mr. Obama calls that point of view a reflection of dysfunctional government. Boehner argued otherwise.
"The solution to this crisis is not complicated," said Boehner. "If you're spending more money than you're taking in, you need to spend less of it."
Mr. Obama doesn't disagree with that line of thought. Just in the way it would be implemented.