Boehner Rejects Obama's Grand Bargain On Debt Ceiling - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Boehner Rejects Obama's Grand Bargain On Debt Ceiling

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner is rejecting President Obama's offer to make historic cuts to the federal government and the social safety net, saying in a statement Saturday evening that he can not agree to the tax increases Democrats insisted on as part of the bargain.

Boehner made his decision after speaking with the president by phone on Saturday afternoon, a day ahead of a major White House meeting with Democratic and GOP leadership, a Republican source familiar with situation said.

Obama had proposed to Republicans a "grand bargain" that accomplished a host of individual things that are unpopular on their own, but that just might pass as a huge package jammed through Congress with default looming. Obama offered to put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts on the table in exchange for a tax hike of roughly $100 billion per year over 10 years. Meanwhile, government spending would be cut by roughly three times that amount. It's no small irony that the party's dogmatic opposition to tax increases is costing the GOP its best opportunity to roll back social programs it has long targeted.

Republicans are now banking on a smaller deficit reduction deal that would still make major cuts, somewhere in the range of $2 trillion.

"Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes," Boehner said in a statement. "I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase."

While taxes are being put forward as a major cause of the collapse of the grand bargain, a Republican familiar with the discussions said that the two parties couldn't come to an agreement on cuts to entitlements. "The White House would not agree with the core elements of tax reform proposed by the Speaker," said the official. "A gulf also remains between the Speaker and the White House on the issue of medium and long-term structural reforms."

When word leaked out this past week that Obama was proposing cuts to entitlements, Democrats in Congress and outside advocates kicked their opposition into high gear, making it clear that no bargain would win their support if it contained any cuts to Social Security or Medicare beneficiaries. That opposition may have broken the back of the bargain. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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