(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner on Monday sent President Obama a counter-proposal on how to cut the deficit that he called a “credible plan” to break the stalemate in negotiations to keep the country from going off the “fiscal cliff.”
In the plan, Republicans offer a total of $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. That would give lawmakers enough savings to off-set $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts set to take effect Jan. 2, 2013, but senior Republican aides said it does not explicitly include an offer to address the standoff over whether the president or Congress should have power over debt limit increases.
The GOP deal offers $800 billion in new revenue through tax reform, but Boehner insist that tax rates should not go up on the top 2 percent of taxpayers.
The offer also proposes $600 billion in health savings, $300 billion in additional mandatory savings, $300 billion in discretionary spending cuts, and $200 billion through revisions to the way the Consumer Price Index is calculated across federal pensions and programs like Social Security.
“What we’re putting forth is a credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House, and I would hope that they would respond in a timely and responsible way,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Monday when he dropped into a staff briefing on the counteroffer. “We could have responded in kind, but decided not to do that.”
“Going over the cliff will hurt our economy and hurt job creation in our country. It’s one of the reasons why the day after the election, I offered a concession to try to speed this process up by putting revenue on the table,” Boehner said. “Unfortunately the White House responded with the La-la-land offer that couldn’t pass the House, couldn’t pass the Senate.”
Boehner said the president’s offer last week was “basically the president’s budget from last February,” which he noted received no votes in the House and no votes in the Senate.
Now, in a letter to the president, House Republicans devised an offer based on Erskine Bowles’ proposal to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the so-called super committee.
The president had asked for about $1.6 trillion in new revenue, including about $800 billion from allowing tax cuts on income over $250,000 a year expire. Obama also asked for about $400 billion in new stimulus spending.
The letter with the proposal was sent to the president around 2 p.m. Monday.
The speaker said he did not intend to speak with the president personally about the offer, but he “might run into him” Monday night at a holiday reception at the White House.
UPDATE: White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer issued the following statement Monday afternoon, saying the GOP proposal does not “meet the test of balance.”
The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve. Independent analysts who have looked at plans like this one have concluded that middle class taxes will have to go up to pay for lower rates for millionaires and billionaires. While the President is willing to compromise to get a significant, balanced deal and believes that compromise is readily available to Congress, he is not willing to compromise on the principles of fairness and balance that include asking the wealthiest to pay higher rates. President Obama believes – and the American people agree – that the economy works best when it is grown from the middle out, not from the top down. Until the Republicans in Congress are willing to get serious about asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher tax rates, we won’t be able to achieve a significant, balanced approach to reduce our deficit our nation needs.
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Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune
Marissa Morrison, KIVI
Allie Malloy and Kevin Liptak, CNN