Pelosi: 'This President Has Been So Respectful of the Republicans in Congress'

By Edwin Mora | April 19, 2012 | 9:32 PM EDT

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at her Thursday briefing that President Barack Obama "has been so respectful of the Republicans in Congress."

She was responding to a reporter who asked her to react to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Calif.) who said on Wednesday that  the “president has been AWOL since Labor Day” and that he “lacks the courage to lead on the economy.”

“The fact is this president has been so respectful of the Republicans in Congress," Pelosi said. "He has given them every opportunity for the executive and the legislative branch to work together, to have a solution that has bi-partisan support. He’s been criticized by some for taking the time that it takes to find out that they’re never going to give him a break, which is a compromise.”

“One thing I do know with absolute certainty, President Obama was in agreement with the grand bargain, which the two of them negotiated last summer,” said Pelosi. “When he asked us, the Democrats in Congress, can you support us going down a path that doesn’t have as much revenue as we want, but that it has the balance, that has cuts that are painful, but also has some revenue in terms of assuming the repeal of the Bush tax cuts [on Dec. 31, 2012] he said, go for it, that would be our recommendation. The president didn’t need our recommendation, he knew where he was on it, but I think it was important for him to know that we were with him.”

Pelosi continued: “As we have said all along, we’re for a grand bargain. You can do many things and difficult choices that are there if you also have revenue. And I know that the president agreed with that and that the Republicans walked away. They’re trying to revise history now, but it just ain’t [sic] so.”

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She went on to say that what Boehner’s comments about Obama were false because the president has actually been “engaged with the American people.”

On Wednesday, Boehner had said, “The president checked out last Labor Day. He spent the last six months campaigning from one end of the country to the other, instead of working with members of both political parties here in Washington to address the serious challenges that our country faces. He’s shrinking from his responsibility to lead and, rather, not using and not having any courage to help tackle these problems.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) (AP Photo)

Commenting further, Pelosi said that what Boehner said “is cute, but it isn’t true. The president has not been -- the president has been engaged, has been engaged with the American people and for that reason the Republicans had to come around on the payroll tax cuts in the House. … I think [what the Speaker said] is a sign of things to come in the campaign, but I don’t think they should go unanswered and the fact is what I know is that the president agreed to the grand bargain. Republicans walked away.”

She accused House Republicans of taking too long to pass legislation in February of this year that extended payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance benefits until the end of the year. The deal also prevented reductions to Medicare payments to health providers. Critics, however, had accused the Republicans of caving in to the Democrats.

The grand bargain that Pelosi alluded concerned the negotiations between Republicans, Democrats, and the president last summer to work out a deal leading up to a deadline to raise the debt ceiling, which is the legal limit on the amount of money the government can borrow. At the time, the limit was $14.29 trillion.

President Barack Obama speaks at a fundraising reception at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich., Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The grand bargain was a failed $4-trillion deal that Speaker Boehner was working on with President Obama that included tax reform, entitlement reform and deficit reduction. They both reportedly had worked out a bargain but then Obama demanded $400 billion more in terms of revenue, i.e., tax increases, and Boehner said no.  As the Speaker has remarked many times, the “White House moved the goal post.”

On Aug. 2, 2011, a deal was struck to raise the debt ceiling by up to $2.4 trillion between then and the end of 2012. The limit was raised $900 billion (on top of a national debt of $14.29 trillion) after Aug. 2 and then by another $1.2 trillion in January of this year. The current national debt (as of Apr. 18) is $15.6 trillion.

As reported on Wednesday, in the 39 months since Barack Obama took the oath of office as president of the United States, the federal government’s debt has increased by $5,027,761,476,484.56.

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