Geithner: GOP facing ‘difficult position’ in fiscal cliff talks

December 2, 2012

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday that congressional Republicans are in a "difficult position" with regard to the ongoing negotiations over the looming "fiscal cliff," and declared optimism that a deal could be reached, even as Republican leaders have said the talks have reached a standstill. 

"I do think we’re going to get there," Geithner said in an interview on CBS's "Face The Nation." "Because, you know, the only thing that stands in the way of an agreement that's good for the American economy is if a group of Republicans decide they're going to block any increase in tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. I think it’s very unlikely they choose to do that, of course, because there's so much at stake."

Geithner said Republicans "really are in a difficult position. And they're going to have to figure out their politics of what they do next, and they're trying to figure that out right now."

House Speaker John Boehner  (R-Ohio) said last week that negotiations had reached a "stalemate," adding, “right now, we’re almost nowhere.” He echoed that assessment Sunday, calling the White House's initial offer to avert the cliff "a non-serious proposal," in a "Fox News Sunday" interview. 

Democratic leaders have held firm in their desire to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as part of any deal, while Republicans don't want to see rates on the nations top earners go up.

Republicans have also called on Democrats to make concessions on reforming entitlements. Geithner echoed other Democrats Sunday when he said Social Security should be addressed separately from the negotiations over the nation's deficit. 

"We're prepared to, in a separate process, look at how to strengthen Social Security.  But not as part of a process to reduce the other deficits the country faces," he said in an interview on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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