(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner was invited to the White House Thursday afternoon for another meeting with President Obama on ways to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff.”
The 50-minute face-to-face meeting was described as a frank and candid exchange of views. There has been no indication that any decision or agreement has been reached.
Earlier in the day, Boehner complained that the president hasn’t agreed to enough spending cuts. The speaker told reporters, “The president wants to pretend that spending isn’t the problem. That’s why we don’t have an agreement.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney scoffed at the notion that the president is holding up a deal, and said the Republicans are still resisting Obama’s push to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“If Republicans agree with the basic idea that rates have to go up for the wealthiest while we extend tax cuts for everyone else…we can reach a deal fairly quickly,” Carney said.
The Washington Post reports that top Senate Republicans are working on a Plan B that, while not making significant inroads in controlling the national debt, would at least avoid the economic problems experts warn would occur if the nation went over the fiscal cliff.
The plan cancels the tax increases scheduled to take effect next year for most Americans and has GOP lawmakers giving in to the president’s long-standing demand that tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans must rise.
The strategy would, however, block other Democratically-endorsed moves to boost taxes on the wealthy, including higher rates on investment income and limits on the value of itemized deductions.
The proposal would produce about $440 billion in new taxes. In exchange for a relatively low boost in new taxes, the strategy, if successful, would then give the Republicans the opportunity to shift the focus onto the Democrats to make larger cuts in government spending.
Congressional aides tell the Post the plan has been rejected by Boehner and other House leaders, but senior GOP policy advisers continue to refine the proposal as the days of avoiding the fiscal cliff dwindle down to a precious few.
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