By all accounts, we're in the Eric Cantor holding his breath until he turns blue phase of debt ceiling negotiations. Also, by all accounts, Speaker John Boehner has just let Cantor take over. Sam Stein at HuffPo has a comprehensive report of what happened in last night's meeting.
It was the fifth straight day of talks, but the first in which attendees, speaking on background, were willing to admit that steps were taken backwards. According to multiple sources, disagreements surfaced early, in the middle and at the end of the nearly two-hour talks. At issue was Cantor's repeated push to do a short-term resolution and Obama's insistence that he would not accept one.
"Eric, don't call my bluff. I'm going to the American people on this," the president said, according to both Cantor and another attendee. "This process is confirming what the American people think is the worst about Washington: that everyone is more interested in posturing, political positioning, and protecting their base, than in resolving real problems."
Cantor, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said that the president "abruptly" walked off after offering his scolding. [...]
Democratic officials had a different interpretation. "The meeting ended with Cantor being dressed down while sitting in silence," one official said in an email. "[The president] said Cantor could not have it both ways of insisting on dollar-for-dollar and still not being open to revenues." [...]
Cantor, who has taken over the mantle of chief Republican negotiator from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), responded by insisting that revenues were off the table and that without steeper cuts, the votes likely didn't exist to pass anything but a smaller, more temporary package. House Republicans needed the administration to go to a higher number, he added.
The president reportedly responded: "It is easy to get to a higher number when you are not asking anything difficult from yourself." [...]
Unhappy that negotiators remained at approximately $1.7 trillion in cuts, Cantor pressed again for a shorter deal or for negotiators to find their way to $2.5 trillion. The president, growing more agitated, argued that attendees were simply looking for ways to say no.
"Talk about arbitrary," he said of Cantor's figure, according to a Democratic attendee. "I am totally willing to do the hard stuff to get well above what you need and you won't do it because you can't put one penny of revenue on the table."
Obama shortly after concluded the meeting. Cantor's story is that Obama became "very agitated" and stormed out, a spin on the story that is in hot dispute.
Pelosi said she had never seen a president more gracious than Obama, whom she described as trying to end a meeting he had hosted.
"He stayed for two and a half hours and listened to what members had to say. It was his meeting and the meeting had come to an end," she said. [...]
"Obama was concluding the meeting, giving the closing remarks and talking about meeting tomorrow, Cantor interrupted him and raised for the third time doing a short-term, and Obama shut him down," [a House Democratic leadership] aide said. "Cantor was playing the role he's been playing throughout this whole thing — being not productive."
Seems to be a bit of projection on the part of Cantor, because if anyone knows how to throw a hissy fit, it's him. Of course, he likes to stage his. Like when he coordinated with Sen. John Kyl to dramatically quit the Biden negotiations. He was apparently being such an asshole last night that even a few fellow Republican think he's a problem:
[W]hile he's been the target of scorn from liberal television hosts, op-ed writers and folks in his own party who don't like what he's saying, Cantor's repetition of the no-taxes hard line simply echoes the firmly held beliefs of his colleagues.
"He's telling them what they want to hear," said one Republican who is critical of Cantor. "I suppose it helps him," the frustrated lawmaker said, but "he's all about Eric." [...]
"He lost a lot of credibility when he walked away from the table … It was childish," said one House Republican with close ties to Cantor who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve their friendship. "This is his time to perform."
He is performing, all right. The most amazing feat he's achieved is making Mitch McConnell look like a statesman.