Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner answers questions about averting the "fiscal cliff" on an episode of "Face the Nation" on Sunday.(Photo: Chris Usher, AP)
WASHINGTON -- The White House says Republicans should come clean
about how much they're willing to raise tax rates on the rich.
Republicans counter that President Obama's latest plan is a joke that
avoids tough decisions on the nation's biggest entitlement programs,
It's a game of political chicken as the clock
ticks closer to the end-of-year deadline, when George W. Bush-era tax
cuts expire and automatic, across-the-board spending cuts kick in,
sending the nation over a proverbial "fiscal cliff" that some economists
say could plunge the fragile economy back into recession.
But based on the partisan rhetoric of those in charge of negotiating a deal, there's not going to be a solution any time soon.
have to tell us what makes sense to them, and then we can take a look
at it," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said of Republicans on NBC's
"Meet the Press." ''But what we can't do is try to figure out what
makes sense for them."
House Speaker John Boehner countered that
Republicans have plenty of ideas, even if he doesn't want to discuss the
"There are a lot of items on the table,"
Boehner told "Fox News Sunday." ''The president knows what they are. The
question is what are they willing to do?"
Last week, the White
House delivered to Capitol Hill its opening proposal: $1.6 trillion in
higher taxes over a decade, a possible extension of the temporary Social
Security payroll tax cut and heightened presidential power to raise the
national debt limit.
In exchange, the president would back $600
billion in spending cuts, including $350 billion from Medicare and other
health programs. But he also wants $200 billion in new spending for
jobless benefits, public works projects and aid for struggling
homeowners. His proposal for raising the ceiling on government borrowing
would make it virtually impossible for Congress to block him going
Republicans said they responded in closed-door meetings with laughter and disbelief.
administration has put something out that polls well: taxing the
wealthy," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. "What they haven't done is
anything to deal with entitlements, which is painful, and you're not
going to have a deal until that happens."
Geithner called the
back-and-forth "normal political theater," saying all that's blocking a
timely deal is the GOP's reluctance to higher tax rates on the wealthy.
welcome that they're recognizing that revenues are going to have to go
up. But they haven't told us anything about how far rates should go up
... (and) who should pay higher taxes," Geithner said.
leaders have said they can accept higher tax revenue overall, but only
through what they call tax reform - closing loopholes and limiting
deductions - and only coupled with tough measures to curb the growth of
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
"If we gave the president
$1.6 trillion of new money, what do you think he'd do with it?" asked
Boehner. "He's going to spend it. It's what Washington does."
appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation," NBC's "Meet the Press," CNN's
"State of the Union," ABC's "This Week," and "Fox News Sunday."