Speaker Boehner: Failure to get 'serious' about spending cuts holding up budget deal

December 13, 2012

House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that talks over the looming fiscal crisis have failed to produce a deal because President Obama will not get "serious" about spending cuts. 

In a fresh bid to energize support for major entitlement cuts as part of any agreement, Boehner rolled out a chart that showed federal spending skyrocketing between now and 2041 -- to 40 percent of the nation's total economy. 

The chart showed that revenue from Obama's push to increase taxes on the top 2 percent will only fill in a sliver of that amount. 

"If you look at the spending problem, you see (the additional tax revenue) does nothing," Boehner said. "The president wants to pretend that spending isn't the problem. That's why we don't have an agreement." 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, said Thursday that Republicans' resistance to tax hikes on top earners is what's holding up an agreement. 

The comments come amid increased pessimism on Capitol Hill about the prospects for a deal any time soon. Lawmakers are at loggerheads over whether to raise taxes on the top 2 percent -- but also Obama's call for unilateral power to increase the debt ceiling, and more stimulus spending. 

Obama on Thursday called the negotiations a "work in progress."

But a senior Democrat told Fox News that at a private dinner Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confided to colleagues he now believes getting a deal by Christmas is almost impossible. In private, Reid suggested going off the so-called fiscal cliff is a real possibility -- but thinks a more likely scenario is that the House ends up passing the Senate bill to only extend rates for households making less than $250,000. From there, both chambers would return in January to fight over spending cuts. 

The latest Fox News poll shows 61 percent of voters say major spending cuts are necessary to reduce the deficit. 

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor is vowing that he and fellow Republicans will work through the holidays to reach a deal to avoid a roughly $500 billion mix of automatic tax increases and federal spending cuts that start on Jan. 1. 

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