News Column

Obama on Road; GOP Snubs His 'Cliff'' Offer

Nov. 30, 2012
Obama speaking

Republicans spurned President Obama's offer in "fiscal cliff" budget talks, calling it a step backward, as Obama was to press his case at a toy factory Friday.

"I'm disappointed in where we are, and disappointed in what's happened over the last couple weeks," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters.

"Going over the fiscal cliff is serious business. And I'm here seriously trying to resolve it. And I would hope the White House would get serious as well," he said.

Boehner -- who learned from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Obama wants $1.6 trillion in new taxes, $50 billion in fresh spending and new power to raise the federal debt limit -- was trying late Thursday to decide how to respond, aides told The Washington Post.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the proposal a "step backward" from compromise.

"This is a real problem," McConnell said. "Every day, the delay brings us one step closer to the fiscal cliff that we simply must avoid."

Policymakers have 31 days to stop more than $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts from kicking in, a combination economists warn will send the U.S. economy back into recession.

Obama's plan would raise roughly $1 trillion over 10 years by ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for upper-income Americans. It would raise another $600 billion over 10 years by changing the tax code, including tax-break limits for those households.

"Right now, the only thing preventing us from reaching a deal that averts the fiscal cliff and avoids a tax hike on 98 percent of Americans is the refusal of congressional Republicans to ask the very wealthiest individuals to pay higher tax rates," White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.

Obama's plan also calls for a one-year postponement of planned spending cuts in defense and domestic programs in exchange for increasing tax rates on those with income over $250,000 and some $400 billion in savings over 10 years from Medicare and other programs, GOP aides told The Wall Street Journal.

"Democrats are on the same page," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "The president has made his proposal -- we need a proposal from them."

Republicans haven't put any comparable offer on the table. They've expressed a willingness to accept $800 billion in revenues over 10 years -- half the amount Obama proposed.

Obama was to fly Friday morning to Hatfield, Pa., 30 miles north of Philadelphia, to visit the K'Nex Brands toy company as part of his strategy to pressure Republican lawmakers to allow tax increases on upper-income Americans.

He was to tour K'Nex manufacturer the Rodon Group -- which makes Tinkertoy construction sets, Lincoln Logs and K'Nex and Angry Birds building sets among other products -- and deliver remarks at 12:05 p.m. EST on the importance of preserving tax cuts for families earning $250,000 or less, the White House said.

K'nex is "a business that depends on middle-class consumers during the holiday season, and could be impacted if taxes go up on 98 percent of Americans at the end of the year," the White House said Tuesday when it announced the visit.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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