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Boehner Angered by Leak of Phone Call

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Republican leaders are fuming after a late night phone call with President Barack Obama was leaked to the press, despite an agreement that it would not be, according to several GOP aides.

Republicans believe the administration leaked details of the 30-minute Wednesday night phone call to Politico, which is causing them to question whether they can trust the White House to keep details private, a sentiment that has caused progress in the negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” to stall.

White House aides, however, denied that the leak came from the administration.

Nevertheless, the leak adds to Republicans’ already simmering tensions with Obama over his decision to travel to Pennsylvania to take his case for a tax hike on high-income earners to the public. Republicans believe the president is more interested in raking them over the coals publicly than striking a deal privately.

Boehner alluded to as much in a Thursday press briefing.

“Listen, this is not a game. Jobs are on the line, the American economy is on the line and this is the moment for adult leadership,” he said. “Campaign style rallies and one-sided leaks in the press are not the way to get things done here in Washington.”

He added, “Right now all eyes are on the White House. The country doesn’t need a victory lap, it needs leadership.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that the call occurred in his Thursday press briefing, saying it was 28 minutes long and a frank conversation. He said he is sure there will be more phone conversations between the speaker and the president.

At a press conference earlier Thursday, Boehner sounded a glum note and sent markets tumbling when he told reporters that no progress had been made toward reaching a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, despite a Thursday meeting with high-ranking administration officials.

Boehner said he had a “very direct” phone conversation with President Barack Obama Wednesday night, but said neither that nor Thursday’s “frank” meeting in the Capitol with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner moved the needle.

“No substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks,” Boehner said. He said Geithner offered no specifics about spending and entitlement cuts, which leads him to believe the administration is not serious about reaching a balanced deal to allay the pending $500 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to kick in next year.

But Boehner said he remains hopeful that a deal can be reached in the coming weeks.

“I’ve got to tell you, I’m disappointed in where we are and disappointed in what’s happened over the last several weeks,” he said. “But going over the fiscal cliff is serious business and I’m here seriously trying to resolve this and I hope the White House will get serious as well.”

Minutes after Boehner began his remarks, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 49 points, presumably because of the news that the talks have not made any progress.

Carney disputed the notion that progress has not been made, but said GOP leaders must agree to raise tax rates on wealthy, not just other revenues.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

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