The relationship between Obama and Boehner takes a nosedive

The relationship between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has taken a turn for the worse.

In the wake of the supercommittee's failure and both parties already jockeying for the 2012 election, the rapport between the commander-in-chief and the nation’s top Republican is not good. And it’s not expected to improve any time soon.

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While a fair amount of legislation, including spending measures, a payroll tax bill and extending unemployment benefits, are expected to pass in December, they will all provide fodder for the 2012 campaign.

Control of the Senate is up for grabs, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the House is in play and Obama is facing a tough reelection race. Republicans claim that there is a decent chance they will control both chambers of Congress and the White House in 2013.

The political landscape of the next Congress, with political analysts saying they are unsure which party will bear most of the brunt of the public’s anger, is unclear. What is clear is that 2012 will be a nasty election year, and could spark more fireworks between Obama and Boehner, two relatively mild-mannered men.

In the spring, the president, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Boehner ironed out a deal to avert a government shutdown.

A couple months later, Obama and Boehner enjoyed a round of golf while comparing notes on how to raise their daughters. The outing triggered speculation that they would strike bipartisan deals on jobs and the deficit.

But it didn’t happen. The White House and the Speaker engaged in an intense message war over raising the debt ceiling in July and early August. As the public’s outrage grew at Washington, the nation’s credit rating was subsequently downgraded by Standard & Poor’s.

In many ways, the Obama-Boehner relationship is now worse than it ever was.

A couple months ago, Obama and Boehner played a public game of chicken over what date the president would deliver his jobs speech to Congress. Eventually, Obama agreed to Boehner’s date in what many called an embarrassing, and avoidable, situation for the two leaders.

In mid-September, Obama traveled to Ohio to call for new infrastructure spending, highlighting the need for repairs to a bridge that connects Boehner’s home state and Kentucky, represented by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Hours after the supercommittee on deficit reduction officially flopped, Boehner’s office blamed the president. The White House promptly fired back as Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill argued over whether the president should have gotten involved at the last minute.

“Obama didn't lift a finger to help the supercommittee succeed. In fact, he made it clear throughout the process — with his unserious 'deficit reduction' plan and his veto threat signaling any agreement must have a trillion-dollar tax hike — that he wanted the panel to fail in order to boost his lagging political prospects,” a GOP aide said.

White House press secretary Carney told reporters this week that Obama presented a “highly detailed and comprehensive plan, laying out exactly what he believe the supercommittee should do in order to achieve the kind of deficit reduction mandated by Congress itself.”

A Republican lawmaker who requested anonymity told The Hill that it is “probably in both their political interest to be seen as enemies, I don’t know that there’s much motivation to [work closely].”

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Earlier this month during an ABC News interview, Boehner said he has a “pretty good relationship” with Obama, but acknowledged, “It’s been a little frost here the last few weeks.” 

Throughout 2011, Boehner and Obama have jabbed at one another.

Obama this summer accused the Speaker of backing out of a grand bargain on debt reduction.

“I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times,” Obama said at the time.

Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said that the Obama-Boehner relationship remains cordial, but the principles dividing to the two leaders are significant.

“The Speaker and the president have a cordial relationship but very different visions about the role of government, especially when it comes to getting our economy back on track,” Smith said, pointing out Boehner’s recent offer to meet with the president to discuss a way forward on job creation.

Carney said Obama and Boehner have “a solid relationship…. [it’s] not about personal friendship, it’s about doing the work that the American people are asking their elected leaders in Washington to do."


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