US House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday warned President Barack Obama that he should not cast blame on Republicans for a possible failure to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," saying the president was equally responsible.
"Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame," the top Republican in Congress said in a statement shortly after an interview aired in which Obama accused Republicans of dropping the ball on negotiations to prevent huge tax hikes and spending cuts from kicking in on January 1.
"Republicans made every effort to reach the 'balanced' deficit agreement that the president promised the American people, while the president has continued to insist on a package skewed dramatically in favor of higher taxes that would destroy jobs," Boehner added.
"We've been reasonable and responsible. The president is the one who has never been able to get to 'yes.'
Obama told NBC talk show "Meet the Press" broadcast Sunday that Congress was now under pressure to produce a deal in the 36 hours before the US economy was due to topple over the fiscal cliff. He barely concealed his anger that Republicans have refused what he sees as a reasonable compromise.
The president said it had been "very hard" for top Republican leaders to accept that "taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit, as part of an overall deficit reduction package."
After talks with Boehner fizzled earlier this month, Obama has now tasked Senate leaders with negotiating a deal.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office called Obama's comments "discordant," and said it was Republicans who were working to bring the two parties together for a solution.