As the White House and Republican leaders enter the final month of negotiations to avoid a year-end “fiscal cliff,” both sides struck an uncompromising tone Sunday, as warnings mounted that they will be unable to forge an agreement to stop an automatic series of deep spending cuts and large tax hikes that could push the economy into recession.
Following private meetings last week, the senior negotiators for the White House and the Republicans took to the airwaves Sunday to accuse the other side of intransigence and to demand that the opposition concede on the central question of how much to raise taxes on the wealthy.
“Right now, I would say we’re nowhere, period. We’re nowhere,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said on “Fox News Sunday.” Boehner added that the Republicans have offered a way to break the stalemate — by compromising on an overhaul of the tax code that would limit deductions that disproportionately benefit the rich.
But Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner rejected that proposal Sunday, insisting that the wealthy pay higher tax rates and that Republicans come forward with a plan that meets that requirement. “There’s no path to an agreement that does not involve Republicans acknowledging that rates have to go up on the wealthiest Americans,” he sai
d on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
While it had always seemed likely that the two sides would reach a stalemate before finally coming to agreement — as has been the pattern over the past two years — lawmakers and congressional aides tracking the back-and-forth said there’s a growing probability that no deal will be reached in time to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“I think we’re going over the cliff,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Geithner appeared on five Sunday morning news shows — and Boehner on one — amid an intensifying public-relations blitz related to the fiscal cliff. President Obama took his first domestic trip since winning reelection to the Philadelphia suburbs on Friday to press Republicans, which was followed by a Boehner news conference.
This week, Obama will gather with governors and make a speech to the Business Roundtable, a lobby group representing big business, to urge lawmakers to embrace his tax proposals. Boehner will meet with governors and rally with small-business owners against tax increases.