How the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Went Awry

At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”

“You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”

After the election, Boehner aides tried to shape the debate by offering early concessions, including that the GOP would agree to raise new tax revenue. A speech Mr. Boehner planned to give was rewritten 18 times and included input from top Republican leaders.

He and Mr. Obama didn’t sit down together for another 10 days. The session began genially. But tension quickly emerged over the president’s call to include increasing the U.S.’s borrowing limit in any final package.

Responded Mr. Boehner: “I’ve found in my life that everything I’ve ever wanted has come with price.”

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