WASHINGTON—Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama called Friday for a return to negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, a day after talks cratered in a very public fashion when Republicans abandoned House Speaker John Boehner's backup plan.
In truth, talks to secure a big deficit-reduction deal had already broken down Monday afternoon in the office of Mr. Boehner (R., Ohio), a Wall Street Journal reconstruction shows. Mr. Boehner had been negotiating a deal with the White House to let tax rates rise for upper-income people.
Mr. Boehner, irritated with the White House, was finding it hard to keep his troops in line as details of his negotiations with Mr. Obama leaked out. In the speaker's office just off the Capitol's majestic rotunda that afternoon, he told his top lieutenants that he was already thinking about a pared-down backup plan. "In the absence of an agreement, 'Plan B' is the plan," he told his deputies, according to a script he read them that afternoon.