House Speaker John Boehner said Friday there was “no progress” in deficit talks and accused the White House of recklessly pushing the country to the fiscal brink over tax hikes.
“This isn’t a progress report because there is no progress to report,” said Boehner, the main Republican in negotiations with President Barack Obama on looming tax hikes and spending cuts that could push the country into recession.
“When it comes to the fiscal cliff that’s threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the White House has wasted another week.”
Obama sent Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Capitol Hill last week with an opening gambit, proposing $1.6 trillion in new tax revenues over the next decade, mainly from higher tax rates on the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
A Republican counter-offer included a plan for $800 billion in tax revenue raised through closing loopholes and ending some deductions. Both plans have been rejected.
“The president doesn’t agree with our proposal. I believe that he’s got an obligation to families and small businesses to offer a plan of his own, a plan that can pass both chambers of the Congress,” Boehner told reporters.
“We are ready and eager to talk to the president about such a plan.”
Geithner raised eyebrows Wednesday when he said the Obama administration was “absolutely” ready for the economy to tumble over the fiscal cliff if a deficit-reduction deal did not include higher tax rates for the wealthy.
Boehner on Friday described such comments as “reckless talk.”
“I came out the day after the election to put revenues on the table, take a step towards the president, to try to resolve this. When is he going to take a step towards us?”
The top Republican in Congress suggested there might be wiggle room in the negotiations, which must thrash out a deal by year end or have taxes rise by what the White House says is about $2,200 per US household.
The top rate is due to rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent if Bush-era tax cuts expire four weeks from now.
Boehner did not reject outright a query about whether he envisioned a potential compromise that would see the rate rise to a compromise of 37 percent while somehow protecting small businesses, a group which Republicans have long claimed can ill afford higher taxes.