WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday President Obama was "absent without leave" in the effort to keep tax cuts and avoid massive spending cuts.
Bush-era tax cuts are set to end in January, and automatic massive government cutbacks kick in that month as well if there is no overall agreement to reduce government debt, called a "sequester."
"Listen, the House has done its job on both the sequester and on the looming tax hikes that'll cost our economy some 700,000 jobs," Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters in Washington. "The Senate at some point has to act. And on both of these where's the president? Where's the leadership? Absent without leave."
Boehner said the sequester will "hollow out our military and have some mindless cuts in spending, the House has acted to replace the sequester. We did so back in May.
"So these two looming threats to our economy, the House has done its job, and we continue to wait for the Senate to do theirs," he said.
Boehner blamed Obama for a failure to get an agreement to avoid the sequestration.
"You know, there was a commitment on the part of the president and the part of Sen. [Harry] Reid, [Senate majority leader] to work with us to get an outcome out of the [congressional] supercommittee [looking for ways to reduce the debt]. And the fact that the supercommittee was unable to come to an agreement leaves us with a sequester.
"Why? Because the president didn't want to have a second round of ... a fight over increasing the debt limit."
Moody's Investors Service has said it may cut its ''Aaa'' rating on U.S. government debt if government talks don't result in a debt agreement. Boehner said, "I'm not confident at all" that can be avoided. Standard & Poor's took that action last summer during the fight over raising the debt ceiling.