By Erik Wasson - 11/21/11 04:30 PM EST
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is blaming President Obama for the failure of the congressional supercommittee to reach a deal for cutting the federal deficit.
The Speaker’s office sent out a memo Monday morning that says the supercommittee “was unable to reach agreement because President Obama and Washington Democrats insisted on dramatic tax hikes on American job creators, which would make our economy worse.”
The memo from Boehner’s office says Obama set the deficit panel up for failure by demanding it become the vehicle for economic stimulus.
The memo was not signed by the Speaker, as is customary for messages that come directly from him.
The president was away from Washington on a nine-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region during the final week of the supercommittee negotiations. In September, the president put forward his own proposal for cutting between $3.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion from the deficit, but mostly kept his distance from the talks after that.
A White House spokeswoman said Friday that reaching a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction deal was Congress’s job, as mandated by the Budget Control Act.
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The 12-member bipartisan supercommittee, which was established by the August debt-ceiling deal, is expected to announce Monday that is has not reached an agreement for $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Both parties are pointing fingers for the stalemate and casting the other side as intransigent.
Members of the supercommittee are expected to announce the failure to strike a deal in a statement after the stock markets close. Major indexes like the Dow Jones and the NASDAQ dived Monday morning on reports that a deficit-reduction deal has not been reached, and some banks fear the U.S. will be hit with another credit downgrade due to a failure to reach a “grand bargain” on the deficit.
The memo from the Speaker’s office said Democrats never put a plan on the table that sufficiently addressed the growth of entitlement programs like Medicare, and noted that Republicans were willing to move toward a compromise by putting tax increases on the table.
Rank-and-file members of the House GOP are jumping on the president as the cause of the supercommittee failure, which will result in automatic cuts to military and domestic spending in 2013.
“He has stood by and done nothing to encourage bipartisanship among this committee. Instead, the President and this Administration would rather sit back and watch automatic cuts kick in that will be devastating to our military-ripping 600 billion dollars from Defense in 10 years. I am calling on President Obama to step up and be a leader and introduce legislation that will restore these automatic cuts to our military,” Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said in a statement Monday.
Democrats pushed back last week on calls for Obama to break the deadlock in the supercommittee negotiations.
“This is a joint congressional committee. It was set up like that. The president does not have a vote at this table,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), a Democratic member of the supercommittee.
—Updated at 12:51 p.m.