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WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner abruptly withdrew from debt talks with President Obama late Friday, ending renewed hopes for a grand deficit-reduction deal to raise the debt limit.
Within minutes, an obviously peeved Mr. Obama virtually ordered congressional leaders to the White House for a Saturday meeting on raising the nation's debt limit. "We've got to get it done. It is not an option not to do it," he said.
Officials say a default could destabilize the already weakened U.S. economy and send major ripple effects across the globe.
Leaders in a divided government, Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner blamed each other's partisans for torpedoing a deal.
"I have decided to end discussions with the White House," Mr. Boehner said in a letter being sent to the entire GOP House membership.
Republican officials said a week of renewed discussions broke down as the White House insisted on revenues from new taxes.
"In the end, we couldn't connect," Mr. Boehner wrote.
With just days remaining to meet an Aug. 2 deadline to avoid a federal default, the speaker is working with Senate leaders to devise a new proposal to be presented to the House and Senate by Monday. The Ohio Republican said the president wants to raise taxes too high and won't make "fundamental changes" to benefit programs such as Medicare.
Top GOP aides say Mr. Boehner will now work with Senate leaders on an alternative aimed at averting a market-rattling, first-ever federal default. But President Obama, in a rare Friday evening turn at the White House podium, said, "I've been left at the altar now a couple of times."
"If Congress and the House Republicans are not willing to ensure that we avoid default, it's fair to say they take responsibility for whatever arises," the president said.
The President said Mr. Boehner was "walking away" from debt talks over "an extraordinary fair deal'.
"I expect them to have an answer in terms of how they intend to get this thing done in the course of the next week. The American people expect action," Mr. Obama said.
The disconnect in the talks with the White House, Mr. Boehner said, was "not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country.
The talks had veered uncertainly for weeks, generating reports as late as Thursday that the two sides were possibly closing in on an agreement to cut $3 trillion in spending and add as much as $1 trillion in possible revenue while increasing the government's borrowing authority of $2.4 trillion.
That triggered a revolt among Democrats who expressed fears the president was giving away too much in terms of cuts to Medicare and Social Security while getting too little by way of additional revenues.