WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2012- Negotiations between the House and the White House on legislation that would contribute enough deficit reduction to avert the “fiscal cliff” seem as far apart as they began, according to leaders on Capitol Hill today.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a press conference today that he and President Barack Obama “had a pretty frank conversation about how far apart we are” over the phone yesterday. Boehner acknowledged a new offer from the president lower than the previous offer of $1.6 trillion in revenue.
“The president is calling for $1.4 trillion worth of revenue,” he said. “That cannot pass the House or the Senate.”
Boehner, noting “serious differences” between him and the president said the president’s plan “does not fulfill his promises to bring a balanced approach to solving this problem—it’s mainly tax hikes. And his plan does not begin to solve our debt crisis—it actually increases spending.”
“In the five weeks since we’ve signaled our willingness to forge an agreement with the president, he’s never put forth a plan that meets these standards and, frankly, it’s why we don’t have an agreement today,” he added.
At the same press conference, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., indicated that House members will remain in Washington over the Christmas holiday. “We’re going to stay here right up until Christmas Eve and throughout the time period before the new year because we want to make sure we resolve this in an acceptable way for the American people,” he said.
Cantor echoed the speaker’s call for the president to specify more spending cuts, adding that his suggestions are “only about tax rate increases and nothing about spending.”
“The president seems to be walking us ever so slowly toward the cliff,” Cantor said.
Later today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney criticized the Republican leadership for refusing to accept tax increases on the top two percent of income earners, because the president refuses to sign a bill that extends Bush-era tax rates on those earning more than $250,000 annually.
“The president has made that clear, and he will not sign a bill that extends tax cuts for the top 2 percent,” he said, adding the White House has not “heard anything from leadership to suggest they’ve change their position” on tax rates.
“The president remains confident that a deal is possible,” Carney said, claiming that Obama “has made abundantly clear he is willing to make tough choices on the spending side.”
Regarding the proposal from Boehner to generate $800 billion in revenue through closing tax loopholes and capping deductions for top earners, Carney said “it is not a plausible position” and that Republicans are not specific enough about which loopholes to close or deductions to cap.
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