Boehner on ‘fiscal cliff’ talks: ‘There’s a stalemate’

Chris Moody

WASHINGTON—House Speaker John Boehner on Friday said that despite receiving a counterproposal from the White House as part of a deal to avoid a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts, no progress had been made between Republicans and Democrats.

"There's a stalemate, let's not kid ourselves," Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, told reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill. "It's not a serious proposal. Right now we're almost nowhere."

The White House on Thursday sent Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to deliver a proposal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff by increasing taxes by $1.6 trillion over the next decade, including $50 billion in stimulus spending for mostly infrastructure and $400 billion in savings in popular entitlement programs such as Medicare.

Republicans rejected it right away. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly laughed in Geithner's face.

"Our original framework still stands," Boehner said the next day, reiterating his opposition to raising tax rates on any income bracket. He added that he remains open to "closing loopholes [and] getting rid of special interest deductions" within the tax code to raise the same amount of revenue.

"I'm not trying to make this more difficult," he said. "You've watched me over the last three weeks; I've been very guarded in what I have to say. Because I don't want to make it harder for me or the president, or members of both parties to be able to find common ground."

While negotiators continue talks behind closed doors, both parties continue to engage in their own public relations tour to promote their own plans. President Barack Obama on Friday traveled to Pennsylvania, and Republican lawmakers plan to meet with small-business owners over the next few weeks.