As the white house gears up for president obama's speech tonight, they're confronting new headlines from journalist bob woodward. He has an inside look at last year's showdown over the federal debt... See More
As the white house gears up for president obama's speech tonight, they're confronting new headlines from journalist bob woodward. He has an inside look at last year's showdown over the federal debt ceiling. Abc's jon karl has a first look. And it's not a pretty picture. Reporter: No, it is not. The book reveals distrust and dysfunction at the highest levels of government. It happened last summer after president obama and speaker of the house, john boehner, secretly tried to strike a deal to rein in the national debt. Woodward said the stakes were much higher than almost realized. You talk about it, essentially 44 days that were the equivalent, the financial equivalent of the cuban missile crisis? It's so serious, they wouldn't tell the world how bad it was at the time. Reporter: In "the price of politics," which will be PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 11th, Woodward writes the two men were close to getting it done. A mix of $4 trillion in spending cuts and tax increases. And negotiated over golf and on the white house's truman balcony. But as they were closingon the deal, president obama asked that more tax breaks be included. For boehner, that was a deal-breaker. At that point, boehner didn't even bother to return the president's calls. Instead, telling reporters, the talks were over. Only then, did he call the president back. Boehner describes the call as angry, saying it was a, quote, presidential tirade. Telling woodward, the president was spewing coals. I was pretty angry, the president told woodward. There's no doubt, I thought it was profoundly irresponsible at that stage not to call me back immediately and let me know what was going on. To woodward, the total breakdown of the talks reflected badly on everyone, especially the It was increasingly clear that no one was running washington. That was trouble for everyone. But especially for obama. The breakdown wasn't that surprising. Almost complete lack of communication between the president and congressional republicans. In fact, when republicans won control of the house in 2010 and the president wanted to call john boehner to congratulate him, nobody in the white house had his phone number.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.