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Monday, December 10, 2012

US 'fiscal cliff' talks fail to reach common ground

US President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the Daimler Detroit Diesel engine plant.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the Daimler Detroit Diesel engine plant.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the economy at the Daimler Detroit Diesel engine plant.

The White House and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner's office held more negotiations today on ways to break the "fiscal cliff" stalemate, although neither side showed any public signs that they were ready to give ground.

The talks gained urgency after Republican Boehner met at the White House with US President Barack Obama on Sunday, raising hopes of progress in averting the onset of tax increases and spending cuts that kicks in on Jan. 1 unless Congress intervenes.

But while striking a more conciliatory tone, both sides kept to a familiar script in the weeks-long standoff. Obama renewed his call for higher tax rates for the richest citizens, which most Republicans oppose, while Republican leaders urged Obama to submit a new offer with specific spending cuts he would back.

Economists say going over the fiscal cliff could throw the United States back into a recession.

On a road trip to Michigan to drum up support for his stance, Obama said he was willing to compromise on some things but not on his demand that Republicans support an increase in tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent of citizens.

"What you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle-class families, we make some tough spending cuts on things that we don't need, and then we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate, and that's a principle I won't compromise on," Obama said during a visit to an auto plant in Redford, Michigan.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Republicans were still waiting for the president to make a new offer that identifies the spending cuts he will make in the deficit-reduction negotiations.

"The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer," Steel said, adding the two sides were holding staff-level talks today.

Boehner and the House Republican leadership submitted their terms for a deal to the White House last week, after Obama presented his opening proposal. Both sides seek to cut budget deficits by more than $4 trillion over the next 10 years but differ drastically on how to get there.

Boehner and Republicans oppose letting any tax rates increase and prefer to find new revenues by closing loopholes and limiting deductions. Republicans also want deeper spending cuts than Obama has offered in entitlements like the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs.

Democrats have insisted that tax rates for the richest must be nailed down before negotiating further on how to proceed with tax reform efforts or new cuts in entitlement programs.

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Tags:  boehner  republicans  white house  obama  us  president  fiscal cliff  taxes  





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