House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he was "flabbergasted" when President Barack Obama opened debt talks by offering the same public positions that he campaigned on.
According to details circulated by Republican aides last week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's offer included $1.6 trillion in taxes, $400 billion in entitlement spending cuts and $200 billion in new stimulus of payroll tax cuts and efforts to encourage homeowners to refinance. The White House also asked Republicans to raise the debt limit as part of a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
"I was just flabbergasted," Boehner told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday. "I looked at him and said, 'You can't be serious.' I've just never seen anything like it."
The Speaker insisted that Obama's first offer was a "non-serious proposal" because it included new stimulus measures.
"They wanted to extend unemployment benefits, they wanted a new stimulus program for infrastructure, they wanted to extend some other tax breaks," the Ohio Republican said. "And all of this new stimulus spending would literally be more than the spending cuts that he was willing to put on the table."
Boehner later added that a "balanced approach" would not include an increase in tax rates for the middle class.