President Barack Obama on Thursday offered a budget deal to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff” that calls for a “$1.6 trillion tax increase, a $50 billion economic-stimulus program and new power to raise the federal debt limit without congressional approval [emphasis added]” in exchange for some $400 billion in cuts to “be worked out next year” (with no guarantees), the Wall Street Journal reports.
Unsurprisingly, GOP leaders responded to the president’s offer with a resounding [paraphrased], “No thanks.”
The Obama White House has taken a “step backward, moving away from consensus and significantly closer to the cliff, delaying again the real, balanced solution that this crisis requires,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in a written statement released by his office.
McConnell also reportedly “burst into laughter” as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined the plan. The Republican said he didn’t laugh to be rude, but he couldn’t help it.
The WSJ offers more details:
The proposal, offered by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as he made a round of meetings with congressional leaders in the Capitol Thursday, calls for increasing tax rates on incomes over $250,000, a one-year postponement of looming spending cuts in defense and domestic programs, and some $400 billion in savings over 10 years from Medicare and other entitlement programs.
The White House offer in some sense amounts to a formal start of the negotiations, which could take many twists and turns before any possible deal is consummated. The White House didn’t have an immediate comment.
For his part, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was definitely displeased with Geithner’s offer and made no attempt to hide this during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“All eyes are on the White House, the country doesn’t need a victory lap, it needs leadership,” said Boehner on Thursday afternoon. “No substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House in the last two weeks.”
The way things stand now: GOP leadership won’t bend on taxes until entitlement reform is on the table and Democrat leadership won’t talk about entitlement reform until Republicans bend on taxes.
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Featured image courtesy Getty Images.
This story has been updated.