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As both parties work on an agreement to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said on Friday very little progress is being made.
“There’s a stalemate. Let’s not kid ourselves. Right now, we’re almost nowhere,” he said in a press conference.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama’s administration proposed a new plan to prevent the U.S. from going over the “fiscal cliff.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House congressional liaison Rob Nabors presented a plan to lawmakers that would potentially reduce the country’s debt by $4 trillion within the next decade.
The plan calls for creating $1.6 trillion in revenue by raising taxes on households earning over $250,000 yearly, making $400 billion cuts on entitlement programs such as Medicare, and putting $50 billion towards stimulus spending for infrastructure projects in 2013.
Republicans in Congress insist they will not agree to raise taxes on the wealthy.
“Unfortunately, many Democrats continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement that will reduce our deficit,” Boehner said after hearing the proposal. He added, “It was not a serious proposal.”
Representative Eric Cantor, R-Va., agreed the plan seemed unreasonable.
“We don’t want to increase tax rates. We’re not going to increase tax rates. This is not a game. We’re not interested in playing rope-a-dope. We’re interested in trying to solve the problems of 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’re not playing a game. We’re being serious. That offer yesterday was simply not serious,” he said.
Obama and the White House are approaching negotiations with a new strategy to pressure Congress into making a decision. Obama’s team will continue to meet with Congress while Obama travels around the country proposing his plan to the public.
On Friday Obama went to Pennsylvania to speak at Roden Group manufacturing company. He said the toy company is an example of a business that relies on consumers during the holiday season, especially the middle class.
“There are two things that can happen. If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1st. Every family, everybody here, you’ll see your taxes go up on January 1st. I’m assuming that doesn’t sound too good to you. That’s a Scrooge Christmas,” Obama said.
The president said taxes for the year would increase by $2,000 for the average family of four. But the Obama administration is still optimistic for a compromise.
He said, “In Washington, nothing’s easy so there is going to be some prolonged negotiations and all of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen. I’m willing to do that. I’m hopeful that enough members of Congress in both parties are willing to do that as well.”
With the year coming to an end, Congress and the president have about a month to come to an agreement.
“The clock is ticking. The year is ending…we’re calling upon the Repbulican leadership in the House to bring this legislation to the floor next week…Elections have consequences. [Obama] made it very clear that he was supporting a tax cut for the middle-class, that he wanted the expiration of the tax cuts for the high-end, and the American people know that. They voted for him,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced in a press briefing on Friday.
While Cantor stands by Republicans refusal to raise taxes, he agrees that a compromise must be made.
“The president won his re-election, we won our re-election. We have to now come together,” he said.