ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
House Speaker John Boehner held a news conference late Friday night to address his decision to pull out of negotiations with President Obama and shift his focus to working with the Senate leadership in order to cut a deal to raise the debt ceiling, explaining that the talks broke down because “the White House moved the goal post.”
Boehner said the discussions with the president broke down for two reasons – additional tax increases and a lack of seriousness on the part of the White House to make “the tough choices that are facing our country on entitlement reform.”
“We had an agreement on a revenue number — a revenue number that we thought we could reach based on a flatter tax code with lower rates and a broader base that would produce more economic growth, more employees and more taxpayers, and a tax system that was more efficient in collecting the taxes that were due the federal government,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “There was an agreement on some additional revenues until [Thursday] when the president demanded $400 billion more, which was going to be nothing more than a tax increase on the American people, and I can tell you that Leader Cantor and I were very disappointed in this call for higher revenue.”
Facing the specter of default, the speaker was asked how talks could have broken down over $400 billion in additional revenues.
“The extra $400 billion would have had to come from increasing taxes on the very people that we expect to invest in our economy and to create jobs,” Boehner answered. “I gave the president’s proposal serious consideration, but let’s understand something: there was an agreement with the White House at $800 billion in revenue. It’s the president who walked away from his agreement and demanded more money at the last minute.”
Boehner announced that beginning tonight he will work with leaders in the House and Senate “to find a responsible path forward,” and said he was “confident that Congress can act next week and not jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States government.”
“I want to be entirely clear: No one wants to default on the full faith and credit of the United States government, and I’m convinced that we will not,” Boehner said. “I have confidence in the bipartisan leaders of the Congress that we can come together and to ensure that we have an agreement that will allow the country to avoid default and meets the principles that we’ve outlined.”
Following President Obama’s hastily arranged news conference Friday night in which the president said the speaker did not return his phone call Friday, a reporter asked Boehner whether his relationship with the president had suffered permanent damage.
The speaker said “there’s a reason why the president and I come from two political parties,” but he added that he did not think his rapport with Obama was irreparably damaged. Boehner also said he will attend an emergency meeting at the White House Saturday morning with the congressional leadership of both chambers and both parties to discuss a path forward.
“The president and I have gotten to know each other pretty well over the course of the last six months, and I can tell you that in all of our conversations they were respectful, they were firm, there was frustrations on both sides – but I don’t believe that our relationship is permanently damaged,” Boehner said. “That’s the bottom line. I take the same oath of office as the president of the United States. I’ve got the same responsibilities as the president of the United States, and I think that’s for both of us to do what’s in the best of our country, and I can tell you that it’s not in the best interest in our country to raise taxes during this difficult economy and it’s not in the best interest of our country to ignore the serious spending challenges that we face.”
Boehner rejected the idea of a short-term debt limit increase to get the government through the Treasury Department’s August 2nd deadline, telling reporters that he and Obama “have never discussed a short term increase in the debt limit.”
“I’m not really interested in a short term increase in the debt limit,” Boehner said. “We have two challenges: We have to increase the debt limit and we have to deal with our deficit and our debt, and the sooner we do that the better off our country will be.”
“This is a serious debate and it’s a debate about jobs, and it’s a debate about our economy, and frankly it’s also a big debate about the future of our country,” he added. “It’s time to get serious, and I’m confident that the bipartisan leaders here in the Congress can act. The White House won’t get serious; we will.”
ABC News’ Sunlen Miller contributed to this report