Obama to Boehner: 'I Get That for Free'

Wall Street Journal finds testy relations at bargaining table

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 22, 2012 2:00 PM CST

(Newser) – The Wall Street Journal has what it bills as a "behind scenes" look at how the fiscal cliff talks went sour this week—on Monday, to be precise—and a few passages stand out to suggest relations between the president and House Republicans may have actually gotten worse since the election:

  • Boehner to Obama: "I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?'
  • Obama to Boehner: "You get nothing. I get that for free."
At another point, Boehner told the president he wanted a deal similar to the one he rejected during their debt ceiling talks of 2011. "You missed your opportunity on that," replied the president. Eventually, an "irritated" Boehner decided to move ahead with his Plan B even while keeping the broader deal on the table. It was a decision that "incensed" the president. (Boehner eventually had to call off the vote anyway.)

Read the full Journal story here. At Politico, Mike Allen says it's mostly a "rehash" of old news. But Ezra Klein at the Washington Post thinks the "I get that for free" exchange is "the central fact of negotiations for the Democrats and the central problem for the Republicans." Read his full explanation here of why Democrats think the $800 billion figure isn't what it seems. The talks, meanwhile, remain in limbo until after Christmas, when the best hope will be that the two sides can agree on a scaled-down, temporary plan.

This Nov. 16, 2012, file photo shows President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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