Boehner Commends 'Dignified and Statesmanlike' Negotiations of Supercommittee

By Susan Jones | November 22, 2011 | 8:48 AM EST

( - House Speaker John Boehner is among the lawmakers expressing disappointment that the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction could not agree on a way to accomplish its assigned task, which was to reduce the federal budget deficit by $1.2 trillion.

"While I am disappointed, the House will forge ahead with the commitments we have made to reducing government spending and removing barriers standing in the way of private-sector job creation," Boehner said in a statement issued on Monday after the supercommittee announced its failure.

"I commend both of the panel's leaders, (Republican Rep.) Jeb Hensarling and (Democratic Sen.) Patty Murray, for the dignified and statesmanlike manner in which the committee carried out its difficult negotiations," Boehner added.

While the bipartisan supercommittee could not agree on a way to narrow the federal budget deficit, it did agree on two things: '[W]e end this process united in our belief that the nation's fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve," members said in a statement issued on Monday.

The supercommittee also expressed the hope that Congress can now build on the work that its members started -- but failed to finish.

Democrats quickly blamed the supercommittee's failure on Republicans, who refused to go along with a trillion-dollar tax hike.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, writing in USA Today, said Republicans "never found the courage to ignore Tea Party extremists and millionaire lobbyists" who opposed any and all tax hikes. Reid cast Democrats as champions of a "balanced approach," which means tax increases:

"Republicans relentlessly sought to end Medicare as we know it by privatizing the program and putting seniors at the mercy of insurance companies," Reid wrote. "In addition, Republicans insisted on expanding President Bush's tax giveaways to millionaires, which would have made our deficit problems bigger, not smaller, while increasing the gap between the top 1% of taxpayers and everyone else."

But Boehner, also writing in USA Today, said Democrats "refused to offer anything they didn't previously support - insisting on a trillion dollar tax hike on job creators and nearly a trillion dollars in new 'stimulus' spending." Boehner said tax hikes on American job creators would only make the economy worse.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was among the Republicans criticizing President Obama for a failure of leadership:

"For those of us who hoped that this committee could make some of the tough decisions President Obama continues to avoid, the Democrats' rejection of not one but two good-faith Republican proposals is deeply disappointing. The good news is that even without an agreement, $1.2 trillion will still be cut from the deficit. Now it falls on the President to ensure that the defense cuts he insisted upon do not undermine national security, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned."

President Obama on Monday flatly refused to allow lawmakers to undo the automatic spending cuts that will take effect in 2013 if Congress can't reach a compromise on deficit reduction: "I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending," Obama said. "There will be no easy off ramps on this one."

Obama said lawmakers still have a year to reach a compromise on deficit reduction, and he continues to insist that tax increases on wealthy Americans must be part of the solution.

But Republicans says there's no reason to give the debt-strapped U.S. government even more money to waste: "In our view, the best way to ensure that Washington doesn't waste more taxpayer money is to give less of it away to those who don't need it--not to take more from taxpayers and hope for the best," McConnell said.