In remarks at the White House Friday evening, President Obama said that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) had informed him that he would be "walking away" from talks about an expanded deal to raise the debt ceiling in return for billions of dollars in spending cuts, tax reforms and revenue increases.
Those increases -- up to $1.2 trillion -- would not have come from tax hikes, Obama said Friday, but from closing loopholes and other measures as outlined by a proposal from the so-called "Gang of Six," a bipartisan group of senators.
Obama called the deal he was offering "extraordinarily fair," and noted it included $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs, third-rail political issues like Social Security and Medicare.
The plans offered by Republicans would place more of a burden on senior citizen, and force more drastic cuts to education and research, without asking anything more of oil and gas companies "or folks like me," the president said.
"We have run out of time," Obama continued, noting that he had called on congressional leaders to return to the White House at 11 a.m. Saturday in order to figure out a way to avoid default and raise the debt limit.
"I continue to believe that a package that is balanced...is the right way to go," Obama said, adding that "the American people are fed up."
In reply to a question about his relationship with Boehner, Obama called the Speaker on his inability to rouse his party to make a deal. "I've been left at the altar a few times now," the president quipped.
Update: Boehner sent this letter to House Republicans outlining his reasons for breaking off talks with the White House over raising the debt ceiling:
Our economy is not creating enough jobs, and the policies coming out of Washington are a big reason why. Because of Washington, we have a tax code that is stifling job creation. Because of Washington, we have a debt crisis that is sowing uncertainty and sapping the confidence of small businesses. Because of Washington, our children are financing a government spending binge that is jeopardizing their future.
Since the moment I became Speaker, I’ve urged President Obama to lock arms with me and seize this moment to do something significant to address these challenges. I’ve urged him to partner with congressional Republicans to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country . . . something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our institutions of government, and help small businesses get back to creating jobs.
The House this week passed such a plan . . . the Cut, Cap & Balance Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support.
Along with Majority Leader Cantor, I have also engaged the president in a dialogue in recent days. The purpose of this dialogue was to see if we could identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law.
During these discussions — as in my earlier discussions — it became evident that the White House is simply not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children’s future.
A deal was never reached, and was never really close.
In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.
The president is emphatic that taxes have to be raised. As a former small businessman, I know tax increases destroy jobs.
The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won’t be there for their generation unless significant action is taken now.
For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward.
The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have not been participants in the conversations I and Leader Cantor have had with the White House; nor have the Republican leaders of the Senate. But I believe there is a shared commitment on both sides of the aisle to producing legislation that will serve the best interests of our country in the days ahead — legislation that reflects the will of the American people, consistent with the principles of the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act that passed the House with bipartisan support this week.
I wanted to alert you to these developments as soon as possible. Further information will be coming as soon as it is available. It is an honor to serve with you. Together, we will do everything in our power to end the spending binge in Washington and help our economy get back to creating jobs.