orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Government

November 29, 2012

White House, Congress talk as 'fiscal cliff' nears

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner met with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Thursday and accused Democrats afterwards of failing to outline specific cuts to avert a fiscal cliff that threatens to send the economy into recession.

"No substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House" in the past two weeks, the Ohio Republicans told reporters after the private meeting in his Capitol office.

"I was hopeful we'd see a specific plan for cutting spending and we sought to find out today what the president really is willing to do," Boehner said.

Democrats quickly countered with a news conference of their own.

"Republicans know where we stand," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "We're still waiting for a serious offer from Republicans."

Reid noted that polls show strong public support for newly re-elected President Barack Obama's proposal to extend all expiring tax cuts except for those that apply to incomes over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples - legislation that Boehner and other Republicans say would harm the economy rather than help it.

The dueling news conferences marked an acceleration in the pace of bargaining, if not in movement toward an agreement on an issue that leaders of both parties say they want to solve.

The speaker has said that Republicans are willing to endorse higher tax revenues as part of any deal to prevent across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect at year's end, but only as part of a deal that includes savings from Medicare and other government benefit programs.

Boehner spoke by phone with Obama on Wednesday night, and said his remarks Thursday were the result of that conversation, as well as the session with Geithner.

Geithner had a later session on his schedule with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as well as Congress' top Democrats.

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