From the beginning of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, aides from both sides have said that November would be for saber rattling and December would be when a deal is put together between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s blessing.
Well, consider comments from Boehner and Reid today to be the November saber rattling reporters were warned about.
In his weekly press conference Boehner called out Obama and the Democrats.
"The president has warned us about the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff, but his actions have not matched his public statements,” said Boehner, who acknowledged speaking with the president Wednesday night and called it “very nice” but “direct.” “Members of his own party seem quite comfortable sending the economy over the fiscal cliff."
Boehner said that no “substantive process had been made over the last two weeks” and that he was “disappointed” with the current state of the fiscal cliff negotiations. He also chided Democrats for not offering, he says, serious spending cuts in exchange for his promise of some increased revenue.
Speaking later in the day, Reid took this blunt shot at Boehner: “I don’t understand his brain.”
Reid called for Republicans to make “a serious offer” and indicated that Democrats would not act until they heard Republican demands on cuts to entitlements.
Along with raising tax rates, entitlements are also a major sticking point in the negotiations. Neither side wants to be the first to put their fingerprints on any specific entitlement cuts due to the risk of a major public backlash from seniors.
Asked by NBC News what specific cuts to entitlements the GOP would like to see, Boehner pointed to previous budgets passed by the House GOP and rejected by Democrats, but he declined to be precise in what he wanted out of these negotiations.
“It's been very clear over the last year and half,” Boehner contended. “I've spoken to the president about many of them. If you look at our budget, where we outline very specific proposals that we passed in last year's budget and the budget before, we know what the menu is; we don't know what the White House is willing to do to get serious about our debt crisis."
Boehner dismissed an assertion that the talks had broken down, but his tone was far from optimistic. Wall Street is hoping to see a deal reached, is paying close attention, and both sides are acutely aware of that.
In what could be another potential headache for the White House, Boehner did not back down on his 2011 position regarding raising the nation’s debt limit, saying, “Any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts."
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said he was “surprised” by Boehner’s debt limit comments.