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
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)

(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.

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Dec 23, 2012 1:40 PM CST
i believe our president needs a cockiness attitude adjustment and boehner needs to grow a pair. unless and until either occur, i think they BOTH should just take a flying leap off the fiscal cliff.
Dec 23, 2012 7:41 AM CST
I will never understand how people can possibly think the problem is spending. In the 2000's, Bush slashed taxes across the board, he deregulated wall street and whatever else he could get his hands on, making his rich school buddies even richer... And then he got us into two wars. The one war would have been fine with me, but he fucked it up in Tora Bora and could have ended it there, but instead he diverted precious resources to an imaginary threat in Iraq, just so we could have a pressence in one of the last parts of the world with almost limitless oil. But it's all the spending on the citizens of this country, who have been paying a much higher percentage of taxes, relatively, than the assholes we now deify as "Job Creators." Seriously, if you think people who make 40,000 a year need to pay more taxes, you are out of your fucking mind. A billionare who pays 1 million in taxes is still doing WAAAAAY better than someone who makes 40,000 and has to pay 5,000 in taxes. How can you not understand that? So you slash taxes, deregulate everything causing them to self destruct, get into two unending wars costing ungodly amounts of money, without even bothering to put that money on the books, essentially lying to the american people... And then surprise surprise, Obama puts those wars on the books and all the sudden the problem is Social Security and Medicare and Food stamps? So basically, the worst off, the poorest people, the people who Jesus Christ himself said we should take care of and help at all costs, those are the people who have to pay for the mindless debauchery of the Bush years? How does that man ANY sense? You have to hand it to conservative media outlets for being able to pass that idea off. "Oh, we can't possibly raise taxes and regulate wall street, I mean, look how bad the Clinton years were! We need to give the rich everything they want and more, because 10 years of that has gotten us so far and helped us all sooo much. No, those who got us in this mess in the first place can't possibly pay an extra 2-3% THAT would ruin EVERYTHING..." It's nothing short of insane. Seriously. Medicare and Social Security and Food stamps are a minuscule fraction of the problem here, and you are demanding giant slashes that won't touch the debt at all. A debt that we've ALWAYS had and is NOT a problem. It's an imaginary problem you created because all the Muslim socialist bullshit you kept throwing at Obama didn't stick. You're mad that despite your complete lack of cooperation and all your efforts to destroy Obama, he's actually helping improve the economy. Oh we can't possibly cut defense spending, I mean look at all the good spending more than all our allies combined on defense has done for us, boy it sure stopped them planes from hitting the twin towers, didn't it? Damn you guys have been so brainwashed I actually feel sorry for you and am fearful of how skillful Fox news and Rush Limbaugh have become at brainwashing idiots like you. I'll let you go back to thinking abortion and gay marriage are destroying the country, and that 10 years of republicans getting everything they wanted had no negative impact what-so-ever.
Dec 23, 2012 6:47 AM CST
If the president had negotiated like this last year, Mittens would have received about 25% of the vote.