Obama’s chief negotiator, Rob Nabors, later rushed to the Capitol to meet with Boehner’s top aides.
Even as Boehner spokesman Michael Steel announced that a new offer had been delivered to the White House, he complained that Republicans are “still waiting” for Obama to propose serious cuts to popular health and retirement programs that are forecast to swell the national debt in coming decades.
“Where are the president’s spending cuts?” Boehner asked earlier in the day in a speech on the House floor. “The longer the White House slow-walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff.”
White House officials, meanwhile, complained that they were still waiting for Republicans to produce an offer that includes higher tax rates for the wealthy, a major focus of Obama’s victorious reelection campaign.
“There is a deal out there that’s possible, and we do believe that the parameters of a compromise are pretty clear,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “What is required is agreement by Republicans to some specific revenues that includes raising rates on the highest earners.”
The sniping comes just three weeks before nearly $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts are set to take effect, potentially triggering a new recession. Earlier in the week, negotiations appeared to be intensifying as Boehner visited the White House on Sunday for his first solo meeting with Obama since the November election.
Boehner described that meeting as “cordial,” and senior GOP aides said they were left with the impression that the president was willing to reduce his demand for $1.6 trillion in new taxes over the next decade to $1.2 trillion. The aides viewed that as an improvement, though still too high for GOP leaders to accept.
But on Monday, matters deteriorated when administration officials delivered a formal offer that Republicans said included $1.4 trillion in new taxes. A person close to the talks said the White House also offered to undertake an overhaul of the corporate tax code, a goal of both parties that is particularly important to the GOP. Still, in the Republicans’ view, the higher revenue figure was a significant step backward.
Republicans fired back Tuesday with a counterproposal that Steel said “would achieve tax and entitlement reform to solve our looming debt crisis.”
Neither the White House nor Republican leadership aides would provide details of the latest GOP plan, but Republican sources close to the talks said the offer made no concessions on the central issue of higher tax rates for the wealthy.