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Obama, Boehner trade plans to avert 'fiscal cliff'

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Campaign 2012,Politics Digest

The White House late Tuesday began leaking word that it had offered Republicans a new proposal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, but the latest offer isn't much different from one the GOP already rejected.

According to multiple news outlets, President Obama offered a plan that would raise $1.4 trillion in revenue, down from his previous $1.6 offer in new revenue raised through tax hikes.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made a counter offer Tuesday that stuck to his original plan of raising $800 billion in new revenue, mainly by eliminating loopholes and deductions in the tax code.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel wouldn't confirm the details, but said the White House was dragging its feet in the negotiations.

"We sent the White House a counter-offer that would achieve tax and entitlement reform to solve our looming debt crisis and create more American jobs," Steel said. "We're still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the 'balanced approach' he promised the American people. The longer the White House slow-walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff."

The White House rejected Republican claims that it was refusing to cut spending, pointing to its own recommendations to trim Medicare by $340 million over a decade and another $350 billion from other government programs.

Obama and Boehner spoke Tuesday night on the phone, the White House confirmed.

The exchange of proposals, while not a big step toward compromise, signals that at least the two sides are ready to work on a deal. For days there had been no communication between the administration and Congress.

Congress has until the end of the month to come up with some alternative to the looming fiscal cliff, which includes big tax hikes and budget cuts that would damage the economy if they take effect in January.

The two sides basically remain miles apart, however. Republicans say they are willing to raise some tax revenue through loophole closures but only if Democrats offer big cuts and a commitment to reform entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Democrats said they won't talk cuts until Republicans agree to raise tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent of taxpayers.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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