WASHINGTON -- It's not that the House Tea Party caucus gets in the way of compromise -- it's that President Barack Obama uses the group as an excuse for not cutting deals, House Speaker John Boehner charged Monday.
Speaking in an interview on PBS NewsHour, Boehner (R-Ohio) added that it will require "courage" to find ways to cut spending and the debt.
"We've had a lot of very good discussions. Unfortunately, did not see a lot of results," Boehner said before denying that he's been hamstrung by the conservative freshman class in his talks with the president over things like extending the debt limit last summer.
"When the president and I have been able to come to an agreement, there has been no issue at all in getting whatever the agreement was, passed," Boehner said. "I think it's an excuse that the White House uses, because there are so many areas we have not been able to come to agreement on."
While Boehner said he's ready to deal with tough spending and debt issues, he suggested others -- apparently including Obama -- are not.
"There is a way to do this, but it takes courage," Boehner said. "I am more than willing to address this problem at any moment with the president, because the future of our country depends on us coming to an agreement that will begin to solve our debt problem."
Boehner has suffered numerous setbacks because of rebellions from the right within his caucus, most recently when his members balked at a deal to extend the payroll tax cut -- opposition that ended in an embarrassing reversal for the GOP just before Christmas.
The speaker insisted that such issues were not a big deal. "While there are some divisions within the Republican side of the aisle, they pale in comparison to the divisions on the other side of the aisle," Boehner said, apparently referring to conservative Democrats who often vote with the GOP, and liberals who sometimes oppose the Democratic leadership.
"My job is to bring our team to do what's doable," Boehner said, noting that Congress is meant to be fractious. "I'm presiding over an institution that was designed not to work. The founders gave us 435 members from all across the country, one big committee, to solve America's issues. It's a demanding job, but I'm glad I've got it."
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