News Column

White House, Boehner: Waiting for Other

Dec 11, 2012
John Boehner

The White House and the office of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, say they are waiting for a response from the other to avoid the "fiscal cliff."

Budget talks between President Barack Obama and Boehner made headway in recent days, showing a new level of seriousness, people close to the process told The Wall Street Journal, without giving any details.

But both sides publicly indicated they were waiting for the other to respond to their requests before bigger strides could be made.

"Discussions with the White House are taking place, but we have no detail to share about the substance of those conversations," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.

"The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer, and we continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the 'balanced' approach he promised the American people," the statement said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney also declined to characterize the talks and said the White House was waiting for Republican action.

"The president does believe that we can reach an agreement," Carney told reporters as Obama flew to Detroit to promote his demand that tax rates rise on income above $250,000.

Obama "has put forward a very detailed plan," Carney said. "He has shown how he believes we need to achieve the necessary revenue targets in order to put together a large deal that would reflect the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that is so meaningful in terms of our long-term fiscal sustainability. And he's made clear in his detailed proposal that he's willing to enact cuts in our mandatory entitlement programs, including our healthcare programs.

"What we haven't seen yet is any specificity at all from Republicans on revenue -- we've seen a sentence on revenue," Carney said. "And while there have been encouraging statements by individual lawmakers about the realization that rates will go up on the top 2 percent, we haven't seen anything specific from Republicans with regard to that."

Republicans want more spending cuts than Democrats will accept, and Democrats have proposed more tax increases than Republicans will accept.

Carney said Obama also called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from Air Force One on his way to Detroit.

The fiscal cliff's $500 billion in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts are due to take effect after the New Year, which comes in 21 days.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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