House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) rebuked President Obama's remarks on Republicans' role in fiscal cliff negotiations, slamming the president for his "ironic" statement on Sunday's "Meet the Press."
“Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame," Boehner said in a Sunday statement. "The president’s comments today are ironic, as a recurring theme of our negotiations was his unwillingness to agree to anything that would require him to stand up to his own party. Needed cuts and reforms that the president agreed to just last year were no longer on the table, as he cited an inability to sell them to Democrats."
Boehner continued: "Republicans made every effort to reach the ‘balanced’ deficit agreement that the president promised the American people, while the president has continued to insist on a package skewed dramatically in favor of higher taxes that would destroy jobs. We’ve been reasonable and responsible. The president is the one who has never been able to get to 'yes.'"
During an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," Obama said that Republicans would have to shoulder the blame if a deal is not reached ahead of Tuesday's deadline.
"We have been talking to the Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers," Obama said. "[S]o far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don't want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it's been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit, as part of an overall deficit reduction package."
Later on the program, New York Times columnist David Brooks backed up the president's assessment.
"Most of the blame still has to go to the Republicans," Brooks said. "They've had a brain freeze since the election. They have no strategy. They don't know what they want. They haven't decided what they want."
With the combination of across-the-board spending cuts and tax hikes set to kick in on January 1, the White House and Congress are making last ditch efforts to reach an agreement. As the AP reports, any agreement reached at this point is likely to pale against previous expectations:
Instead, their deal, if a deal they indeed cut, will put off some big decisions about tax and entitlement changes and leave other deadlines in place that will likely lead to similar moments of brinkmanship, some in just a matter of weeks.
Republican and Democratic negotiators in the Senate were hoping for a deal as early as Sunday on what threshold to set for increased tax rates, whether to keep current inheritance tax rates and exemptions and how to pay for jobless benefits and avoid cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. Senate leaders were hoping to be able to present their members with a plan when the parties meet separately on Capitol Hill Sunday afternoon.