“Right now, I would say we’re nowhere, period. We’re nowhere,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said on “Fox News Sunday.” Boehner added that the Republicans have offered a way to break the stalemate — by compromising on an overhaul of the tax code that would limit deductions that disproportionately benefit the rich.
But Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner rejected that proposal Sunday, insisting that the wealthy pay higher tax rates and that Republicans come forward with a plan that meets that requirement. “There’s no path to an agreement that does not involve Republicans acknowledging that rates have to go up on the wealthiest Americans,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
While it had always seemed likely that the two sides would reach a stalemate before finally coming to agreement — as has been the pattern over the past two years — lawmakers and congressional aides tracking the back-and-forth said there’s a growing probability that no deal will be reached in time to avoid the fiscal cliff.
“I think we’re going over the cliff,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Geithner appeared on five Sunday morning news shows — and Boehner on one — amid an intensifying public-relations blitz related to the fiscal cliff. President Obama took his first domestic trip since winning reelection to the Philadelphia suburbs on Friday to press Republicans, which was followed by a Boehner news conference.
This week, Obama will gather with governors and make a speech to the Business Roundtable, a lobby group representing big business, to urge lawmakers to embrace his tax proposals. Boehner will meet with governors and rally with small-business owners against tax increases.
The debate over how to raise taxes on the wealthy is part of the broader discussion over how to reduce federal borrowing over the next decade. At the end of the year, tax rates are scheduled to increase on nearly all Americans, raising hundreds of billions of dollars of new tax revenue but costing the average family about $2,000 a year in take-home pay.
Obama wants to freeze tax rates for most Americans while allowing them to rise as high as 39.6 percent for the wealthiest people — defined as earning over $250,000 per year. That will reduce federal borrowing by about $1 trillion over a decade.
“There’s just no reason why 98 percent of Americans have to see their taxes go up because some members of Congress on the Republican side want to block tax rate increases for 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans,” Geithner said Sunday.