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No progress in fiscal cliff talks - Boehner

December 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that there has been no progress in talks to avoid a fiscal cliff, calling on President Barack Obama to produce a new offer.

Mr. Obama has campaigned on raising tax rates on individual income exceeding $200,000 and family income over $250,000, and he's claiming his re-election as a mandate to insist on it. But Republicans want new tax revenues through closing loopholes and curbing deductions.

Two Boehner aides met with a top White House official in the Capitol for a discussion Thursday that produced no progress.

Hours after Boehner's comments, Vice President Joe Biden again laid out the White House's terms: raise the top two tax rates paid by upper-income earners and give the president authority to raise the government's borrowing cap without the approval of Congress.

"Top brackets have to go up. The top rate should go to 39.6 percent," Biden said.

Boehner's frustration appears to be growing, saying the White House wasted another week and failed to respond to Monday's GOP offer to raise tax revenues by $800 billion over the next decade by ending or reducing tax breaks, particularly on the wealthy. The Republican plan would cut spending by $1.4 trillion, including by trimming annual increases in Social Security payments and raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67.

"When is (the president) going to take a step toward us?" Boehner said.

The president and Boehner spoke on the phone privately on Wednesday. Boehner said the conversation was pleasant "but just more of the same."

When asked whether he might be willing to accept some increase in the top tax rate, Boehner responded, "There are a lot of things that are possible to put the revenue that the president seeks on the table. But none of it's going to be possible if the president insists on his position - insists on 'my way or the highway.'"

Obama on Friday met with top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi, discussing a number of issues, including the fiscal cliff, a White House official said. Pelosi called on GOP leaders to schedule a vote on Senate-passed legislation to hike the top two tax rates for individual income exceeding $200,000 and family income over $250,000.

"Why are you not bringing this to the floor?" Pelosi said. "Is this a forever, forever protection of the wealthiest people in the country at the expense of the middle class?"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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