Two hours of debt ceiling negotiations between President Obama and House Republicans ended with Obama walking out of the meeting, fed up particularly with Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Though House Speaker John Boehner has supposed to be the lead Republican in the talks, Cantor has taken an increasingly important role, and the president doesn't like it one bit, according to Cantor himself.
After the meeting, Cantor strode into an area in the Capitol where reporters were waiting and gave a blow-by-blow account of what happened, The New York Times' Carl Hulse reports. The Republican said he repeatedly floated the idea of a short-term increase in the debt limit, which would require several more votes before the 2012 elections. At that point the president said, according to Cantor, "Eric, don't call my bluff. I'm going to the American people with this. ... I'll see you tomorrow."
Democrats dispute Cantor's account, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi telling The Hill's Russell Berman and Sam Youngman that the president was gracious, and a Democratic aide saying "Cantor was playing the role he's been playing throughout this whole thing--being not productive." But event Democrats' version of events make it sound like Obama wanted to do this to Cantor:
Democrats are eager to make Cantor the face of Republican stubbornness, Politico's Jonathan Allen reports, as a way to get a leg up in the negotiations: "The Senate's Democratic Policy and Communications Committee pulled this quotation from Cantor's high school yearbook to portray him as unreasonable: 'I want what I want when I want it.'"
"I refuse to help Barack Obama get reelected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy... The reason default is no better an idea today than it was when Newt Gingrich tried it in 1995 is that it destroys your brand and would give the president an opportunity to blame Republicans for a bad economy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.