WASHINGTON - President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner dug in Wednesday on their already-hardened positions on tax increases vs. spending cuts as the outlines of another dire debt-ceiling showdown emerged.
After a bipartisan meeting at the White House, neither side suggested room for compromise to avoid a repeat of last year's gridlock that brought the government to the brink of default. Boehner insisted on spending cuts to offset an increase in the nation's borrowing limit, while Obama warned he would not accept more cuts without also extracting tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama told lawmakers he "refuses to allow a replay of last summer's self-inflicted political crisis." But he said the president also made clear that he would balk at attempts by Republicans to pay for an increase in the debt ceiling with spending cuts alone.
Carney would not say how the White House could prevent a showdown if the Republican-led Congress again insists on commensurate cuts.
Boehner insisted his party would not back down from that demand. A Boehner aide said the speaker told the president he was "not going to allow a debt-ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has latched on to the debt and spending debate as well. In a campaign stop Wednesday in Florida, Romney said he was the candidate who "will stop the spending and borrowing inferno" and accused Obama of being the driving force behind the nation's $15.7 trillion debt.
The Treasury Department says the government will hit its borrowing limit later in the year but can use accounting maneuvers to extend the deadline for congressional action to lift the debt cap into early next year. Boehner suggested Tuesday that Congress may take "a series of stopgap" debt measures before an acceptable budget pact can be passed.