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But Mr. Obama, with a straight face, continued. “We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.”

The truth: “Actually, the White House was walking back its commitments on entitlement reforms, too. They kept saying they wanted to ‘go big.’ But their actions never matched their rhetoric,” the insider said.

Now, Mr. Boehner and the real leaders in Congress have taken back the process. He’ll write the bill and pass it along to the president, with this directive, which he reportedly said to Mr. Obama’s face in a short White House meeting Saturday: “Congress writes the laws and you get to decide what you want to sign.”

Watching the one-third-of-a-term-senator-turned-president negotiate brings to mind a child spinning yarns about just how the living room lamp got broken. Now, though, the grown-ups are in charge; the kids have been put to bed. Ten days ago, the president warned the speaker: “Don’t call my bluff.”

Well, Mr. Boehner has. He’s holding all the cards — and he’s not bluffing.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at jcurl@washingtontimes.com.