Republicans are willing to work with the White House to negotiate a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff but House leaders insisted the president must play a leading role.
“We can’t sit here and negotiate with ourselves,” House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) told reporters Wednesday. “If the president doesn’t agree with our proposal and our outlines, I think he’s got an obligation to send one to Congress.”
The White House swiftly rejected a Republican offer this week based on a proposal originally outlined by Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair of the president’s 2010 deficit commission.
House leadership drew heat from conservatives for proposing the offer, which included $800 billion in new revenue through tax reform.
Republican leaders similarly scoffed at an opening proposal from the White House largely based on the president’s most recent budget, which was unanimously rejected by Democrats in both chambers of Congress.
“If you look at the plans that the White House has talked about thus far, they couldn’t pass either house of the Congress,” Boehner said Wednesday.
He dismissed the idea that Republicans were out of line with public opinion by refusing to raise tax rates on high earners.
“The revenues we're putting on the table are going to come from—guess who? The rich,” Boehner said.
Obama has insisted that no deal is possible unless Republican agree to raise revenue through higher tax rates.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said, “nothing is going on” in terms of negotiations with the White House because the president is unwilling to have “specific discussions” about cutting spending.
“An obsession to raise taxes is not going to solve the problem,” he said. “We can't just keep borrowing money and raising taxes and expect the problem to go away.”
The next 72 hours are “critical,” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and provide “an opportunity for the president to lead.”
“I'll be here and I'll be available at any moment to sit down with the president,” Boehner said.