A Wall Street Journal report detailing the broken-down status of talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on the year-end “fiscal cliff” reveals that Obama threatened to use both his inaugural and State of the Union speeches to blame Republicans if there’s no deal.
Negotiations reportedly came to a standstill after Boehner proposed increasing the tax rate on top earners:
Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.
At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”
“You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”
According to Politico, Obama was referring to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Senate Republicans who had already said they would be open to tax rate increases and therefore he didn’t need to concede anything.
Obama has been buoyed by his election victory, using it as an opportunity to remind Boehner he has the upper hand:
Mr. Obama insisted on raising tax rates for those with household income above $250,000. The House GOP wanted significant spending cuts and fundamental changes to Medicare and other entitlement programs in exchange for new tax revenue.
The president repeatedly reminded Mr. Boehner of the election results: “You’re asking me to accept Mitt Romney’s tax plan. Why would I do that?”
Before Obama flew to Hawaii for Christmas with his family on Friday, he said he was still confident the two sides could reach a “comprehensive deal” after using the holidays as a cooling-off period. Boehner used the weekly Republican address to say the House had done all it could to avert the cliff and that it was down to Obama to come up with a “balanced” approach.