Since John Boehner declared last week that he won't be holding any more one-on-one negotiations with President Obama (despite the fact that Republicans need him to sign off on changes to federal taxing and spending), he now feels free to share the details of their weeks of unsuccessful talks. Unsurprisingly, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore, Boehner says most of the fault lies with the president. "At one point several weeks ago," Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.'" He says Obama believes that federal deficits stem from "a health-care problem." Boehner says the negotiations ultimately failed because the president is "unwilling to take on the left wing of his own party," and "it became painfully obvious that the president won't cut spending."
The deal that eventually passed with support from Boehner and a minority of House Republicans was brokered mainly by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Boehner's take away: He should have turned things over to the Senate earlier:
"What I should have done the day after the election was to come out and say: The House has done its work. The House passed a bill that replaced the sequester with real spending cuts. The House passed a plan extending all of the current tax rates. We passed a budget. We call upon the Senate to do their work."
One senator in particular has been the focus of Boehner's ire. He confirmed that he told Harry Reid to "go fuck yourself" and didn't seem particularly remorseful about cursing out a fellow member of Congress just outside the Oval Office:
"Those days after Christmas," he explains, "I was in Ohio, and Harry's on the Senate floor calling me a dictator and all kinds of nasty things. You know, I don't lose my temper. I never do. But I was shocked at what Harry was saying about me. I came back to town. Saw Harry at the White House. And that was when that was said."
While taking "long drags on one cigarette after another," during the hour-long interview, Boehner declared at one point, "I need this job like I need a hole in the head." If Boehner really wants to give up the job, it seems that could have easily been arranged. Following the "Plan B" fiasco, many were surprised to see Boehner reelected Speaker of the House, and on Sunday Roll Call reported that he actually came even closer to losing the position than previously thought. Supposedly, a group of House Republicans agreed to vote against Boehner if they could get 25 people to join their cause. At the last minute, one representative backed out and the plot fell apart, though only 17 votes were needed to force a second ballot. The group never planned to support a single person as Boehner's replacement, but members of the group did approach House Majority Leader Eric Cantor about taking a lead role in their coup. He rebuffed their advances, confirming that he's content to bide his time.