Nightly News   |  July 22, 2011

Boehner walks away from debt talks

Gridlock lingered in Washington D.C. on Friday, as Republican House Speaker John Boehner called President Barack Obama to announce that he is withdrawing from the debt ceiling talks. NBC's Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> now to the late news that house speaker john boehner has broken off talks with the president over raising the debt ceiling. that drew a sharp and immediate response from president obama this evening. nbc's kelly o'donnell has late details now on where things stand. kelly?

>> reporter: lester, this is serious, a major breakdown in talks intended to find some way to keep the country from going into default. the president told us he received a phone call from speaker boehner late today. that brought him into the briefing room. and speaker boehner had fired off a letter to all of its house colleagues saying that i have decided to end discussions with the white house and begin conversations with leaders of the senate. boehner went on to say, a deal was never reached, and was never really close. bottom line, boehner 's walking away . the president is frustrated. boehner says that he believes that the president wanted to increase taxes to a level that republicans couldn't take. this president says he feels he's been left at the altar, is ordering congressional leaders to be at the white house at 11:00 a.m . tomorrow and here was the president's take on what's gone wrong.

>> this was an extraordinarily fair deal . if it was unbalanced, it was unbalanced in the direction of not enough revenue. it is hard to understand why speaker boehner would walk away from this kind of deal and, frankly, if you look at the commentary out there, there are a lot of republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn't get done.

>> reporter: why? well, senior aides to speaker boehner tell us they were frustrated that after the gang of six, that group of senators came forward with their own plan, they believe it derailed the talks. they claim the white house , with the president and secretary geithner pulled back and changed demands. the basic outline had been on track, they say, to reach a deficit reduction plan of about $3 trillion, with major changes to the tax code , which would increase revenue, but drop rates. and there would have also been big changes to the entitlement programs, cuts to medicare, that kind of thing. very serious stuff. they say that they had to walk away and will try to come up with a deal with senate leaders this weekend. lester?