House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio sounded the first sour note of what had been three weeks of "kumbaya" from Washington’s political leadership, a time when leaders of both parties have waxed eloquent about the need to work together to solve the pending fiscal cliff, some $600 billion in higher taxes and lower government spending scheduled to hit the economy beginning Jan. 1.
“Two weeks ago we had a very productive conversation at the White House. Based on where we stand today, I would say two things,” Speaker Boehner told reporters after his meeting with Secretary Geithner, the point person for the White House’s negotiations with Congress. “First, despite claims that the president supports a ‘balanced’ approach, the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts. And secondly, no substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks.”
The criticism that Mr. Obama has not laid out specific reductions to discretionary government spending or entitlement programs, such as Medicare, was also on the lips of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky.
“To date, the administration has remained focused on raising taxes and attending campaign-style events, with no specific plans to protect Medicare and Social Security or reduce our national debt in a meaningful way,” Senator McConnell said in a statement. “And today, they took a step backward, moving away from consensus and significantly closer to the cliff.”