Fiscal Cliff: Both sides harden positions, next steps unclear
November 30th, 2012
05:34 PM ET
1 year ago

Fiscal Cliff: Both sides harden positions, next steps unclear

Washington (CNN) – Both parties' positions on how to reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff seemed to harden Friday, and Democratic and Republicans on Capitol Hill conceded that the next step in reviving the negotiations is unclear.

About a half hour after President Barack Obama wrapped up an event in Pennsylvania designed to ratchet up pressure on the GOP to agree to renewing tax cuts just for those making under $250,000, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill that talks were at a "stalemate."

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Boehner and congressional Republicans were still fuming after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the lead negotiator for the Obama administration, delivered a proposal they immediately deemed unacceptable.

The White House plan, which Geithner laid out but didn't present in any formal written form, reiterated its long-held stance that upper income tax cuts should expire. It included additional tax measures that would generate a total of $1.6 trillion in new revenue, and it added some new items - $50 billion for a stimulus program and automatic increases in the debt ceiling – two issues that are non-starters with conservatives and only inflamed rank and file members.

Boehner panned the offer again on Friday, saying "it was not a serious proposal. So right now we're almost nowhere."

When Geithner presented the plan to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday in his office, the top Senate Republican laughed out loud, according to a GOP source familiar with the meeting.

Boehner didn't provide any detailed proposals during his news conference on what he and other Republicans could accept. But he suggested the issues aren't new and the White House should look at previous proposals for ideas about major entitlement reforms and spending cuts.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who attended the Thursday meeting with Geithner, wouldn't say whether the GOP was preparing any formal counter offer, but said the talks would continue.

"This is not a game. We are not interested in playing rope-a-dope. We are interested in trying to solve the problem for the American people so that we don't see taxes go up on anybody, so that we can engage in tax reform, get this economy going again. We are not playing a game we are being serious. That offer yesterday was simply not serious," the Virginia Republican said.

House Republican aides said many members recognize that they are going to have to give some on the tax issue, but they were caught off guard by some additional items Geithner added to the mix on Thursday.

The administration's new demand for more stimulus money and a proposal that would make it harder for Congress to stop the president from raising the debt limit were too much for many House Republicans. These aides said anger is mounting as time ticks toward the year-end deadline, and these additional proposals only made it harder to get GOP support for a broader package.

Ohio Republican Pat Tibieri mocked the White House demand for automatic increases for the debt ceiling.

"It's not even worth an answer. It's Wizard of Oz - crazy. You can't give the president unabated power like that – any president, Democrat or Republican. It's a check and balance in our system that I support."

Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, argued for the administration to give more on changes to programs like Medicare, but said Republicans so far "have done a bad job of laying out what the problem is."

LaTourette, who is retiring at the end of the year, told reporters on Capitol Hill that people understand that Obama ran on renewing the tax cuts for 98% of Americans, but said Republicans need to focus more on the cost of programs like Medicare and Social Security.

"To me, I attempt to explain it that you've got to look at the two-thirds of the budget which are the entitlements. They are based upon models that are drawn from the 1950s and the 1930s and they're not sustainable today. We have to explain that better."

The Ohio Republican said he was circulating a letter with the message "go big or go home" signed by members of both parties to show Obama and Boehner there would be bipartisan support for a deal. The letter was not taking a position on any specific proposal, but would urge both sides to compromise.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed to recent results at the polls in support of the Democratic position.

"Elections have consequences; the president campaigned, he made it very clear - he made it very clear that he was supporting tax cuts for the middle class, that he wanted the expiration of the tax cuts for the high end," Pelosi said.

The Democratic leader said if Republicans won't agree to hold a vote, she would use a procedural tool to try to get a majority of signatures on a petition to force a vote on the measure.

With no sign that the partisan rhetoric will let up, Tiberi predicted the president's campaign-style event in Pennsylvania where he aimed to isolate the GOP will backfire.

"I supported the president's (children's health insurance) program. I supported other things that the president has put out there. I'm not dogmatic and ideological when it comes to fixing problems," Tiberi told reporters off the House floor on Friday." But he added: "This president is losing all ability to negotiate with Republicans who want to solve problems by the kind of offer he put on the table yesterday."


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • John Boehner • President Obama
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Next steps:

    1. Bush tax cuts expire atomatically.

    2. GOPers/Teatrolls all get to claim they didn't "vote" to raise taxes.

    3. Dems propose tax cuts for the middle-class only.

    4. GOPers/Teatrolls severelyk damage themselves trying to find ways to oppose it and then give sick-of-it liberals reason to rejoice when they hang themselves from the proverbial ceiling fan by trying to hold the debt ceiling hostage again.

    5. Underpants gnomes.

    6. Profit.

    November 30, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Data Driven

    The President won the election, and the Dems hold the Senate. Therefore, most of the President's policy priorities should go through. The people said so last month. Win elections, GOPhers, and your policy priorities can get enacted. That's how it works up in this mothah, yo.

    November 30, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. California Gary

    Boehner......you are right in the middle of that proverbial butt kicking contest........and you are the one-legged man. Best thing you can do is declare the other man the winner and then hobble on out of the picture before you sustain permanent damage.

    November 30, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    It is called an impasse. Obama will not be reasonable, so nothing will get done.

    November 30, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. Alan

    American Public wins by going over fiscal cliff because with what Boehner, McConnell, Reid and Pelosi make, their taxes will go up enough to start helping versus either crying as Boehner has in the past or by doing nothing as this Congress has done for over 2 yrs now, still earning their salaries. The GREAT NEWS to the world watching and especially for the Administration is that both Boehner and McConnell whose top priority according to him 4 years ago was to 'make sure Obama didn't get a 2nd term" – which FAILED....both Boehner and McConnell are up for election on Nov 8th, 2014!. Run anyone against both gentlemen and when the 114th Congress gets seated in Jan 2015, 13 yrs of misery (since Bush was elected) and 5 yrs of dysfunction will cease!....

    November 30, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    After a bruising defeat in 2012, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell are setting the GOP/Tea Party into cement as the party of the 1% rich.

    November 30, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. Pam in Georgia

    Looking at the comparisons of taxes paid by $350,000 + on Fact check with Tom Foreman- if it includes sales tax for that Ferrari I can't afford or that Tiffany jewelry, I have no sympathy for upper income people who are paying more in taxes.

    November 30, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. Grahame Rhodes

    Keep going Republicans. Guess what? No matter what the future holds we will blame you anyway. The Democrats are riding a wave of popularity thanks in no small part to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and the rest of the bunch. (Santorum comes to mind as does Michelle Bachmann.) We haven't forgotten the very dirty campaign either. Thank you Donald Trump...NO The Republicans are going down.

    November 30, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. Grumpa

    This is going nowhere. This constant head butting has got employers running for the storm cellar, rather than hiring as the economic situation crawls towards better numbers. No one wants to do anything until the constant cries of "unacceptable" stop. It might be better to go over the "cliff". Yanking the band-aid off will hurt less than this tugging back and forth on the wound.

    November 30, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. Squigman

    I've yet to see any boost in employment, or uptick in the economy from the tax breaks given to the wealthy up to and including now. Why does this elected mirror kisser believe things will get better if the tax breaks are extended to the wealthy to avoid a fiscal cliff. Seems that the fiscal cliff means nothing to this current speaker of the house, and it probably means less to the wealthy. This man is completely out of touch, as is Cantor and McConnell. The three of them need to be censured for their part in holding the American people hostage for their own nefarious purposes.

    November 30, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. Hillcrester

    Boehner wants a repeat of the debt limit debacle so our credit rating will slip snother notch. Even the most deficit-reducing plan RomneyBain could think of during the campaign involved annual deficits for the next ten years, meaning the debt limit would need to be raised under the most favorable possible scenario. Boehner's political posturing will cost us another downgrade, which means increased borrowing costs, which INCREASES those deficits.

    November 30, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  12. Tony in Maine

    John – stop the blather. It's time to put the country before politics – and your job. You have the opportunity to show courage by standing up to the crazies in your caucus. It is my experience that when you face down bullies, they wilt.

    November 30, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. Derek

    I do predict this is a game of chicken and we are going to go over the cliff. That way, the Dems can point to the Republicans and say that they would not vote to extend middle class tax cuts unless the wealthy were included. Afterwards ... the Dems will propose a new bill to extend Middle Class tax cuts only ... and the Republicans will be forced to either honor it ... or face the wrath of the electorate in 2014.

    November 30, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. roy

    Bottom line republicans side with the wealthy and won't support tax increases on them even if our country floats down the drain.

    November 30, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  15. Nietodarwin

    This is the same House that cried "Abortion abortion abortion" every time Obama tried to pass a JOBS BILL, (to repair infrastructure, like, say......the bridge in NJ that had trouble today) This is the same House that tried 33 times, yes THIRTY THREE TIMES, to repeal Obamacare. (Doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. (Albert Einstein)) This is the House of Mr. Legitimate Rape Akin. Some of these people actually believe the earth is 6-10 years old . They are LITERALLY INSANE. They will hurt the country as much as they can before they leave.

    November 30, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. JPNAmerican

    Do Republicans not know how to haggle? Geithner knew his demands were outrage. It was the first bid it's meant to be outrageous. Now Republicans are SUPPOSED to make a counter offer that is equally outrageous and then we have 2 deals to use to work out a compromise where both sides get what they want. I believe Republicans do understand this they're complaining because they don't want to compromise on raising taxes which needs to be raised.

    November 30, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. Walter

    They joust about. But neither wants to do anything except go over the cliff, that way they can blame each other but raise taxes on everybody to gain the revenue needed to bring down the deficit. They are just gutless to say what they really need, and the economy will absorb this in about two months and we can go forward. But it really sucks, but so does caster oil.

    November 30, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  18. calvin

    let's go under then work our way out. with all the people who get goverment pay the frist to lose there benfits. pass a law that say a balance budget. if you run out of money before the next year stop all work. maybe if china or russia take over the usa they will fix the messy both partys have made. give up all our rights and try a new system.

    November 30, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  19. Jcal

    This is America. Obama was not elected "king". He was elected president. A president does not have absolute power. Now Obama was really not elected by an overwhelming majority, not that it really matters. He won, and gets to be president. If he won't negotiate in good faith with Congress, then we will go where we go. He wanted the job, and that doesn't mean he gets everything he wants the way he wants it. It is clear now that he is far interested in spending than he is to fix the deficit. That is amateurish. I just don't see where he is going with all of this but politically posturing. If we get a credit downgrade again, we frankly deserve it!

    November 30, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. ELH

    The CBO report on the "fiscal cliff" was clear. We will have a minor recession in Q1 and Q2 of 2013 but will emerge from the recession in much better long-term fiscal health as a nation. Necessary tax increases will occur, not just for the top 2%, but for 65+% of tax payers and that will be combined with significant reductions in spending. This begins to address both the revenue problem and the spending problem and (per the CBO) balances the budget by 2016. I would rather have some self inflicted pain in 2013 then go thorugh what Greece and Spain are dealing with in 2020. Further, if it is to be "shared sacrifice" lets all share in said sacrifice. It wasn't just spending on the top 2% that got us into this. It took all of us to get here and it will take all of us to get out of this. Continuing to borrow money to sustain tax rates we have never been able to afford (note the deficits every single year since they were passed in 2001) and to sustain spending rates we cannot afford is foolish.

    November 30, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  21. 1formerfarmer

    I say that we just go over the cliff...we've got nothing to gain or lose. The people had to vote between 2 losers so why not just let the losers prevail? Go over the cliff and let the Dems own the decline and blame the GOP or compromise and let the Dems own the victory and blame the GOP for defeat?

    November 30, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  22. Yeahona

    The republicans serious about working on anything meaningful – yeah right, as long as they protect their wealthy campaign donors. Why they want special tax breaks for the wealth, I'll never understand. Call it raising taxes or whatever, but in the end, it is giving special tax breaks to the people that need them the least!

    November 30, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  23. ccb

    How can any American back the GOP-Tea Party standing firm on 'protecting' the wealthiest Americans but trashing and putting their political feet on the necks of middle class America. If we continue to allow these uncaring folks to stop this country's economic growth because they don't like Pres. Obama for a variety of reasons, race being one of them, then shame on us for not applying pressure on these political hacks. This is why Obama is trying to rally the people, while trying to negotiate with them at the same time. The GOP-Tea Party has not learned anything from this election. Unless the American people put pressure on their elected officials,, then we will have no one to blame but ourselves. The GOP-Tea Party believes the election is over, Obama won, BUT, we well continue to stop 'this man'(I'm sure that is not what they call him behind closed doors!).

    November 30, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  24. Ex-GOP Con

    Speaker Downgrade and the GOP TEA Party RINOs are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Come 1/1/2013, the Bush tax cuts expire for EVERYONE. Then President Obama can come in and push for tax cuts just for the middle class. If the GOP TEA Party RINOs hold that hostage to protects the 1% they will look like champions for the rich.

    Poor Boehnor.

    November 30, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  25. CBR

    Surprise, surprise, Speaker Boehner hardening his position. When has he ever soften a position so that solutions could be found to the problems we face. Speaker Boehner represents a state that needs this fiscal crisis to end.

    Regardless of who was elected President Speaker Boehner would continue to play hardball. He has had not intention of cooperating unless the voters push their own reps to move forward without him.

    November 30, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
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