(WASHINGTON) — With negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff effectively locked at a standstill, House Speaker John Boehner once again blamed President Obama, telling reporters the president is “so unserious about cutting spending” that he “jeopardizes a golden opportunity” to rein in the deficit and get spending under control.
“Republicans want to solve this problem by getting the spending line down,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “The president wants to pretend that spending isn’t the problem. That’s why we don’t have an agreement.”
The speaker looked to deflect fault from Republicans towards Obama for overlooking the rapid pace that spending is projected to increase over the next decade.
“He wants far more in tax hikes than in spending cuts, and instead of beginning to solve our debt problem, he wants new stimulus spending and the ability to raise the debt limit whenever he wants without any cuts or reforms,” Boehner said. “It’s clear the president is just not serious about cutting spending.”
Boehner said it’s now up to the White House to demonstrate how to cut spending and “give us the balanced agreement that the president has talked about for weeks.”
“If the president will step up and show us he’s willing to make the spending cuts that are needed, I think we can do some real good in the days ahead,” he said. “If not, he wants to keep chasing higher spending with higher taxes…our kids and our grandkids are the ones that are going to suffer because Washington was too short-sighted to fix the problem.”
The speaker also said he strongly opposes the president’s request to take the constitutional power over the debt limit away from the legislative branch.
“Do you think there is any chance that Senator Reid or then-Senator Obama would have done that?” Boehner said. “Congress is never going to give up our ability to control the purse, and the fact is, is that the debt limit ought to be used to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C.”
As time runs short for lawmakers hoping to pass a deal before Christmas, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has scheduled five days of legislative business next week. He also said a weekend session is possible and pledged that the House will not adjourn the 112th Congress until action is taken to avert the fiscal cliff.
The speaker emphasized that the House passed bills to replace the defense sequester and extend all of the current tax rates months ago.
“We really shouldn’t be [here]. I argued going back to spring that this issue had to be dealt with,” Boehner said. “But here we are, at the eleventh hour, and the president still isn’t serious about dealing with this issue right here. It’s this issue, spending!”
“Most Americans would agree that spending is a much bigger problem than raising taxes,” he added. “They want us to deal with this in a responsible way.”
Asked whether he is concerned that a deal with the president could alienate members of the House Republican Conference and jeopardize his job as speaker of the House, Boehner said his “goal is to get to an agreement with the president of the United States” that cuts the deficit with spending reforms.
“I’m not concerned about my job as speaker,” he said. “What I’m concerned about is doing the right thing for our kids and our grandkids, and if we don’t fix this spending problem, their future is going to be rather bleak.”
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