Before leaving town, Boehner puts fiscal cliff onus on Obama
December 22nd, 2012
06:00 AM ET
2 years ago

Before leaving town, Boehner puts fiscal cliff onus on Obama

(CNN) - It was clear from House Speaker John Boehner's weekly address on Saturday that the fiscal cliff negotiations with President Barack Obama weren't going anywhere soon.

Both men left Washington on Friday, leaving the looming spending cuts and tax increases for after Christmas.

They left the capital with an exchange of pointed words that appeared to show there had been no significant breakthrough in the final hours before vacation.

"Unfortunately, the president and Senate Democrats have vowed to reject and veto all of our proposals while failing to offer a responsible solution of their own," Boehner said in his recorded weekly address Saturday morning.

Obama told reporters shortly before taking off for Hawaii: "The challenge that we've got right now is that the American people are a lot more sensible and a lot more thoughtful and much more willing to compromise, and give, and sacrifice, and act responsibly than their elected representatives are. And that's a problem."

Boehner used his address to put the burden for a breakthrough on Obama and Democrats, who he said were not making the tough choices he had put forward.

"The House has done its part to avert this entire fiscal cliff," he said. "On the 10th of May and again on Thursday, we passed legislation that would replace the 'sequester' with responsible spending cuts. We also passed a bill to stop all of the January 1 tax hikes."

But the measure that narrowly passed the House by six votes late Thursday wasn't Boehner's Plan B - which would have prevented the tax increases at year's end for some income levels - but a measure to avert spending cuts for military programs that are part of the fiscal cliff bundle.

Boehner called off the vote on Plan B, saying in a statement, "it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass."

The speaker has said Obama's plans include far more in tax increases than spending cuts, and on Saturday he said Obama "refuses to challenge the members of his party to deal honestly with entitlement reform and the big issues facing our nation."

"The American people re-elected President Obama on Election Day. They also re-elected a Republican majority in the House," he said. "In doing so, they gave us all a mandate. It was not a mandate to raise tax rates on families and small businesses. It was a mandate for us to work together to begin solving the massive debt that threatens our country's future."

After calling off the Thursday vote, Boehner said Obama needs "to work with Senator (Harry) Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff."

Obama has called for a "balanced" approach that includes both the tax increases and spending cuts. The across-the-board cuts that would go into effect without action otherwise are considered undesirable by both sides.

Congress designed the sequester as an incentive for the two sides to reach a deal.

Obama and Boehner spoke on Friday, Obama said, their first conversation since Monday, when the two sides exchanged offers that put them closer to a solution. They had each offered concessions on taxes - Boehner offering an extension of lowered tax rates on income under $1 million, and Obama on income under $400,000 - and on other aspects of a deal, such as the mechanism for computing entitlement benefits, the Consumer Price Index.

The House speaker sounded a hopeful note in closing.

"Of course, hope springs eternal, and I know we have it in us to come together and do the right thing," he said. "We will continue to work with our colleagues in the Congress and the White House on a plan that protects families and small businesses."


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. sparky

    Business as usual, the spineless political deadbeats have left for a Christmas holiday. I don't get the holiday 'week' off and I wouldn't have a job if I left without finishing an important project. We need to write, call, email and tell them to get back to work. We should also find a way to stop paying them for leaving the most important job unfinished. Sad how they care so little about the people they're elected to work for.

    December 22, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  2. mike

    Maybe when Congress leaves town. . .they won't come back.

    December 22, 2012 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  3. farmerobin

    I wonder whether, having been comprehensively beaten in the recent presidential elections, the Republicans have any inkling of the growing perception of them by Europe as an outdated, gun loving, right wing party of political dinasaurs who have no real interest in melding the American people into a genuine nation and seem only to care for the very wealthy, and thick skinned wealthy at that.

    December 22, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  4. independent

    "It's his fault I can't control my caucus, it's his fault the Tea Party is dividing the GOP, it's his fault I can't accept compromise bill on the fiscal cliff, it's his fault Plan B failed, and if he weren't so appealing to most voters, they'd see that. All he has to do is agree to what we want.

    December 22, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. Yonni

    Too bad the speaker doesn't have the power to do anything. The Republican Party has left us in the mercy of a talk show hosts and a lobbyist whose agenda is to make money from their grandiose stunt and over sensitivity. It seems there is no congress in the Republican house but sold goods each serving his master. We need to take money out of politics.

    December 22, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Complete failure on the part of Speaker Boehner for failing to control the extremist Tea Party elements in his caucus. The GOP/Tea Party receives the biggest share of blame if the country goes over the fiscal cliff. Hopefully voters will punish the GOP/Tea Party in the 2014 mid-term elections.

    December 22, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  7. Anthony

    The onus is on Republicans. The public has been very clear: raise taxes on the rich. Right-wing media may tell them otherwise, but Republicans thought that they were winning the 2012 election until reality broke through on Election Day.

    December 22, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  8. GI Joe

    He's the worst Speaker I've seen in almost 70 years of life.

    It's his job to get the bill written that his co-horts will approve and the President will sign. He just keeps trying to put ALL the responsibilities on the President. Fire this man in 2014.

    December 22, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. CAWinMD

    The bill that Boehner and the boys passed in Congress is ridiculous - no spending cuts whatsoever for defense, no new revenues to take on the deficit, but it does have the virtue of cutting social programs so the less well off have even less of a safety net. But yes, let's put all our weight behind that package, because that's the best we can possibly do.

    This perfectly illustrates the problem. The most balanced approach is Simpson-Bowles, but neither party can seem to rally the troops to support that, because it is actually a significant step. The second most balanced approach is Obama's plan, because it actually specifies what revenue to raise and what cuts to make. Boehner's plan, that theoretically is "balanced" in the sense that the numbers are equal, is a wish list - very little specificity.

    The right answer is for Boehner to let Obama's plan come up for a vote. $2 trillion is not insignificant. If it gets voted down, then we're going over the cliff. But it's better than Obama's approach right now which is raise the revenue but not pair it with spending cuts.

    December 22, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. Data Driven

    Set aside personal ideology for a moment and consider Boehner's failure from a purely political perspective. His job as Speaker of the House of the opposition party is to cede as little as possible to the President, but cede he must to get a deal. In order to get that deal, he must get members of his caucus to bend, and to accept the best deal that he could get from the President.

    Since 2010, this man has been the Kept Boy of the Tea Party. He controls nothing. He's not a deal-maker, and he has no influence in the House - none.

    Why is he Speaker?

    December 22, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. bcrunner

    What an idiot!! This guy is trully living in another world.. His own members rejected his plans and he says it's the president who rejected his plan. Duh!!! Of course the president would reject your plan... it has no chance!! Now the American people can see for certain why we have no progress. The tea party did not come to Washington to work.. to govern. They came to Washington to STOP everything. Well, that not how you have progress.. Whether they believe it or not, we need government to function. They make a ton of money and they hardly work... They are always "going home"...

    December 22, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. john oh

    "They also re-elected a Republican majority in the House,"

    House members of the republican party lost every seat that was not considered "safe" and in "deep red" territory. They hardly re-elected the majority because if all seats of the house were up for election at once, they would have suffered massive losses. Their last 2 decades of Jerrymandering aside, they still lost many seats they should have been able to keep.

    Boehner is being completely dishonest in this statement because just because their majority remains does not mean their majority was re-elected to their positions. They want to roll the dice again with our economy just to appease their rich financial backers who spent tons of cash in this election cycle with the promise of lower taxes.

    December 22, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. Government Employee (soldier)

    I am an American Soldier that has proudly served the Army for 27 years. In that time, I have spent 4 years in Alaska, 1 year in Korea, 6 months in Desert Storm (Kuwait), 1 year on Operation Noble Eagle (Texas), and 1-1/2 years in Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq). During these overseas deployments and operations, I have missed anniversaries, birthdays, and many holidays. This is part of being a soldier and I would proudly do it again, but I wonder how these political figures that are paid salaries just as I was can leave a job incomplete to be with their families while so many of my military comrades are missing theirs. A soldier/sailor/airmen cannot leave their duties to be with their families during the holidays, but other government employees are allowed to. We the people need to stand up and make our political figures do their jobs just as our military does!

    December 22, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  14. Squigman

    Wow. He fumbles the ball, then kicks it out of bounds with his extreme right foot. Then he has the nerve to put the pressure on the president to make good. Only in America would this be tolerated. In some circles it's probably looked up to, but not here

    December 22, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. RINO Bill

    Failure to reach an accord is bad enough. Abrogating the responsibility for developing a plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff is unconscionable and not the sign of a leader. John Boehner, as Speaker of the House, is not only a great disappointment, he is pathetic.

    December 22, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |