Meet the Press host David Gregory repeatedly pressed Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to explain why he believed President Obama was to blame for the automatic budget cuts that went into effect Friday when Congress failed to reach a compromise. He never got an answer that quite satisified him.
I an interview, taped Friday after last-ditch negotiations failed, Boehner insisted that Obama and Senate Democrats were to blame because they did not send any proposal his way.
“Even today, there’s no plan, from Senate Democrats or the White House, to replace the sequester,” he said.
But Gregory was unconvinced, pointing out that Obama had in fact outlined what he required in a compromise deal. Importantly, that framework included specific mention of entitlment and spending cuts—both of which are central to Repubican demands—that he’d be willing to make.
“Mr. Speaker, that’s just not true,” Gregory said. “They’ve made it very clear, as the president just did, that he has a plan that he’s put forward that involves entitlement cuts, that involves spending cuts, that you’ve made a choice, as have Republicans, to leave tax loopholes in place.”
“Well David, that’s just nonsense,” Boehner interrupted. “If he had a plan why didn’t Senate Democrats go ahead and pass it?”
Senate Democrats did not pass a competing bill to avert the automatic cuts because Republicans in that chamber effectively fillibustered their efforts. The bills passed by the Republican-led House were also a solely a symbolic gesture, as they did not address revenue increases, making them a non-starter for Democrats.
Gregory continued to rebuff Boehner’s claims, pointing again and again to the fact that Republicans had an offer from the president that included policies they very much support.
“Why not give on this?” Gregory asked. “Why not allow some revenues to come from tax reform? You protect defense spending, and you unlock the key to getting the kind of entitlemnt cuts the president said he’ll give you.”
Boehner demurred once more, saying that Washington had to “live within their means,” and that the president already got some tax cuts on the last debt ceiling compromise.
Again, Gregory was incredulous.
“You yourself said, ‘Look we got 99% of the Bush tax cuts extended,’” he said. “That’s a pretty good deal.”
You can watch the full interview below. The meat of it starts around the 1:50 mark.