House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he remains hopeful that he can reach a deal with President Obama to avert the year-end "fiscal cliff," but the onus is now on Obama to put spending cuts on the table as part of a deficit reduction.
In a brief update on the status of the negotiations delivered from the well of the House floor, Boehner acknowledged that he and Obama spoke this weekend, a conversation he termed "nice" and "cordial." But he quickly added, "We're still waiting for the White House to identify what the spending cuts the president is willing to make."
"Right now, the American people have to be scratching their heads, wondering, when is the president going to get serious?" Boehner said. "The longer the White House slow walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff."
His words echoed those of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said earlier in the day that Democrats "have simply refused to be pinned down on any spending cuts."
President Obama has proposed spending cuts in his budget this spring and in a deficit reduction proposal submitted to House Republicans this month. White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed to those proposed cuts Wednesday. "What we haven’t seen yet is any specificity at all from Republicans on revenue," he said.
Aides for Boehner and Obama have said lines of communication are open between the two camps to try to come up with a deal to avert planned tax increases and mandatory spending cuts. But they have not settled on how much in new tax dollars to include, nor how deeply to cut entitlement programs.
The update from the speaker was the latest of Boehner's public statements to be carried live by financial television stations, as markets and investors monitor the talks for sign of progress.