House Speaker John Boehner reportedly had another secret meeting with President Barack Obama on fiscal cliff negotiations on Monday. This is the latest in a series of behind-closed-doors talks between the two.
On Friday and over the weekend, Boehner caved on the debt ceiling and on taxes enraging conservatives while failing to delight the president enough to cut a deal.
The Washington Post reported that the Monday meeting between Obama and Boehner was “their third conversation in the last five days.”
The Post adds this latest meeting comes “after Boehner put forward a new offer that would call for $1 trillion in new tax revenue, including a raise in tax rates on income of more than $1 million, and $1 trillion in spending cuts that would include a revision to expensive entitlement programs. The speaker’s preferred plan is to revise downward the annual inflation adjustment for beneficiaries of federal programs, including Social Security.”
Both Boehner and Obama choose to have discussions in back rooms out of the public’s eye. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel won’t answer why his boss wants to keep the details of the negotiations from the American people.
“The President and the Speaker are meeting at the White House to continue their discussions about the fiscal cliff and balanced deficit reduction,” Steel said in a statement instead.
The conservative Club For Growth on Monday smashed Boehner for reportedly offering to give up all Republican leverage on the debt ceiling until 2014. “First Speaker Boehner offered to raise tax rates after promising not to, and now he’s offering to raise the debt ceiling. Raising tax rates is anti-growth and raising the debt ceiling is pro-government growth – and this is the Republican position?” Club For Growth president Chris Chocola said in a statement. “Raising the debt ceiling would give away one of the best tools the Republicans have in their arsenal to force real reform. The debt ceiling is the only mechanism in law that can restrain spending and hitting it forces Washington to confront its spending problem. Raising the debt limit again simply kicks the can down the road. Instead of raising the debt ceiling, the Republicans should use it to force President Obama and the Democrats to accept structural reforms to entitlements, which are the drivers of our debt.”
The debt ceiling is widely viewed by Republicans as a major leverage point by which they can force the president to agree to spending cuts, entitlement reforms and other conservative reforms. Boehner’s reported cave on the debt ceiling would give away all such leverage for at least a year, essentially allowing President Obama to continue forward with his agenda.
It's unclear what Boehner and Obama discussed on Monday because the meeting was secret and aides won't talk about the details on the record with press.