House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is warning against reading too much into one-on-one meetings between President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner, saying nothing has been agreed to yet that could lead to a debt reduction deal.
"Don't read that we're anywhere close to [the end of] negotiations, of finishing anything," the California Republican told Fox News' Dana Perino Monday night. "There's nothing agreed to. They are just beginning to talk."
McCarthy continued the GOP criticism of Obama for taking his case for increased taxes on the wealthy to the American people, saying his trip Monday to Detroit was an example of the president's failure to take the lead in negotiations.
"The president wasn't in Washington negotiating, he was in Detroit campaigning," said McCarthy, echoing a similar comment made by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday.
"This president needs to get off the campaign trail. The election is over and now it's time to govern," McCarthy added, expressing his frustration that Republicans appear to be "negotiating with themselves" in the president's absences from Washington as the so-called fiscal cliff deadline of Dec. 31 approaches.
He said the president's focus on raising taxes, which he insisted "won't solve the problem" and would put the country "further in the hole," is apparently aimed at pushing Republicans to the edge.
"He's doing everything he can to slowly walk us off the cliff, but act like he was working towards [a deal]. That's the problem. That's the frustration you hear and see," McCarthy said.
"We don't want to go there," he added. "We want to solve the problem, and that's why we're fighting to solve it. And we're going to make hard decisions and it's going to [make] America better in the future than we even are today."
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