White House blasts Boehner

White House press secretary Jay Carney lit into Republican leadership Thursday, accusing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of offering "fantasy economics" in negotiations over a debt deal.

Carney blasted Republicans for what he characterized as a hypocritical call for President Obama to outline his proposed spending cuts.

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"It begs the question, what spending cuts have the Republicans put forward?" Carney said. "The proposal that we've seen is a two-page letter."

Carney went on to argue that there was "no specificity behind what the Republicans have put forward, and no more than a sentence about proposed revenues."

His comments came just hours after Boehner repeatedly called the president "unserious" about striking an agreement to avoid going over the so-called "fiscal cliff." 



The Speaker argued that negotiations had stalled because Obama was unwilling to outline specific spending cuts he favored.

"The president wants to pretend spending isn't the problem. That's why we don't have an agreement," Boehner said. "Unfortunately, the White House is so unserious about cutting spending that it appears willing to slow-walk our economy right up to — and over — the fiscal cliff."

The press secretary disputed that account, saying that the administration "still believes a big deal is possible."

Carney also swiped at Boehner personally, arguing that the Speaker had warned in the 1990s that tax hikes proposed by then-President Clinton would damage the economy, and in the 2000s touted President George W. Bush's tax cuts as promising for the middle class.

"Let me just say that while I personally am very fond of John Boehner, his record of predicting what would happen if certain economic policies were instituted is abysmal," Carney said.

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With just 18 days before the Bush-era tax rates expire and automatic spending cuts set to trigger, both sides have been pushing the other to step out first with a compromise proposal. Obama characterized the deal as "a work in progress" as he answered a question shouted at him while walking to a holiday party.

But that progress may have stalled, with Boehner set to return to his home state of Ohio over the weekend. While a spokesman for the Speaker noted there was "both cell phone service and airports" in Boehner's home state, the decision to return home is a marked contrast from last weekend, when Boehner visited Obama at the White House.

On Thursday, Carney noted the White House was also equipped with "landlines" and disputed that a face-to-face meeting was the "magic elixir" to solve the tough negotiations.

At the same time, the press secretary acknowledged that "there's no question that we haven't [yet] reached an agreement."