House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill on Friday.(Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)
By Michael O'Brien, NBC News
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, emerged Friday to say that "no progress" had been made on resolving the impending "fiscal cliff."
Capitol Hill's top Republican said that talks with President Barack Obama toward resolving the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for the beginning of next year continued to stall; Boehner renewed his demand that Obama submit a new plan for evaluation by lawmakers.
"This isn't a progress report because there's no progress to report," the speaker said at a brief press conference Friday morning on Capitol Hill.
The issue of taxes continues to ensnare negotiations on the fiscal cliff. The Obama administration has demanded that income tax rates be increased for the wealthiest Americans; Republicans made a counter-offer earlier this week that would raise revenue by closing loopholes and deductions, but would also preserve existing tax rates, all of which are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts.
"It's time for the president, if he's serious, to come back to us with a counter-offer," said Boehner, asking at a later point: "When is he [Obama] going to take a step toward us?"
The president rejected the Republican plan as unbalanced because it allowed for no increase in income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, a priority on which Obama campaigned for re-election this fall. His original proposal, presented last week to lawmakers by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, called for increased rates. What Republicans are now demanding is a new version of Obama's plan.
At the same time, Boehner is facing countervailing pressures among rank-and-file Republicans over his management of the impending fiscal cliff. Some conservatives have complained that the GOP leadership's offer to collect new revenue constitutes a betrayal of the low-taxes philosophy which has long characterized the modern Republican Party. At the same time, some Republicans have called for the extension of tax rates for most Americans so as to prevent the political impact of a tax increase for middle class families on Jan. 1, if a deal cannot be reached.