After House Speaker John Boehner announced that he was once again walking away from talks with the White House, President Obama criticized House Republicans for being unwilling to compromise to tackle the nation's deficits and debt.
"What can you say yes to?" Obama asked. "Where is the leadership? How serious are you about debt and deficits?"
Making a rare Friday evening appearance at the White House briefing room, the president told reporters what the White House had put on the table: $1 trillion in discretionary spending cuts over 10 years and $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs. In return, Obama said he was asking for $1.2 trillion in additional revenues (through tax reform).
"This was an extraordinarily fair deal," Obama said. "If it was unbalanced, it was unbalanced in the direction of not enough revenue."
"I was willing to take a lot of heat from my party," he added. "It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this deal."
Obama announced that he has called for House and Senate leaders to convene at the White House at 11:00 am ET tomorrow to discuss how to proceed to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2. "They are going to have to explain to me how we're going to avoid default."
Right before the president spoke, Boehner issued a letter to House members, explaining why he walked away from the talks. "The president is emphatic that taxes have to be raised. As a former small businessman, I know tax increases destroy jobs," he said. "The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won’t be there for their generation unless significant action is taken now."
Boehner added, "For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward."
This was the third time House Republican leaders had walked away from debt talks with the White House. First, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked away from earlier negotiations with Vice President Biden. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Boehner called Obama to announce he was discontinuing talks.
*** UPDATE *** Boehner just addressed reporters, saying that "No one wants to default" and that he's searching for a path forward. He added that he walked away from the talks because 1) "they insisted on raising taxes," and 2) "they refused to get serious about cutting spending."