But no high-level meetings were planned. And negotiations appeared to be stalled with just four weeks left until New Year’s Eve, when more than $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts are set to take effect, potentially driving the nation into recession.
“I hope they get on a bunch of helicopters and go to Camp David to sort it out,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). “At the end of the day, I think we’re going to need something like that.”
The framework Boehner unveiled Monday serves as a counteroffer to the plan Obama put on the table last week, which was essentially a reprise of his most recent budget request. While both plans would reduce borrowing by more than $4 trillion over the next decade, Obama’s proposal would raise $1.6 trillion in fresh revenue — double the amount in the GOP plan — and produce only about $350 billion in savings from Medicaid and Medicare, the biggest drivers of future borrowing.
Republicans were outraged by the president’s proposal, calling it a step backward. On Monday, Boehner referred to it as the president’s “la-la-land offer.”
“We could have responded in kind, but we decided not to do that,” Boehner told reporters.
Instead, Boehner began last week rallying top Republicans around the Bowles framework, which was presented in November 2011 to a special deficit- reduction “supercommittee” of Congress. The framework is separate from the recommendations Bowles offered when he served as co-chairman of Obama’s fiscal commission with former Republican senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming.
All told, the plan would reduce borrowing by $2.2 trillion through 2022 — or by as much as $4.6 trillion when previously enacted spending cuts, interest savings and reductions in war spending are taken into account.
The Republican proposal was included in a letter to Obama, which was drafted and signed over the weekend. In addition to Boehner, Cantor and Ryan, the letter was signed by Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.), and newly elected House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.).
The offer makes no mention of how to handle a looming battle over the federal debt limit, which will soon need to raised above $16.4 trillion. Nor does the offer provide any suggestions for how to carry out the debt-reduction framework and avoid the fiscal cliff. GOP aides said those details are open to negotiation.
“There are multiple ways to get this done,” said one senior GOP aide who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity. “The details need to be filled in later.”
Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.