Boehner: Obama Slow-Walking U.S. To Cliff

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WASHINGTON,  (UPI) —  President Obama “wasted another week” and may be deliberately trying to “slow-walk” the country over the “fiscal cliff,” House Speaker John Boehner said.

“Well, this isn’t a progress report because there’s no progress to report,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a Friday news conference.

“When it comes to the fiscal cliff that’s threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the White House has wasted another week.”

Boehner suggested the president has adopted “a deliberate strategy to slow-walk our economy right to the edge of the fiscal cliff,” referring to the year-end deadline when tax rates go up, among other things.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Boehner’s “slow-walk” comments could apply to the House’s schedule.

“[This] is the same Republican leadership that had the House in session … barely a full day this week,” she said in a news conference.

Noting that the latest jobless report from the Labor Department indicated the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, Pelosi said the economy could be growing more “if the Republican leadership had taken up, and passed some of President Obama’s job initiatives … and had passed the middle-income tax cut.”

She said the Senate has passed a bill that Obama is willing to sign and House Democrats have a petition to bring that measure to the floor.

Pelosi said the only obstacle standing in the way of middle-income tax relief is the Republicans’ “unwillingness to ask the top 2 percent to pay their fair share.”

After the Obama administration and House Republicans traded proposals last week, nothing has happened. The White House plan calls for $1.6 trillion in new revenue and $2.4 trillion in spending cuts. The Republican plan would seek $900 billion in mandatory spending cuts and $300 billion in discretionary spending cuts exceeding the spending reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act.

Boehner characterized a telephone conversation he had with Obama earlier this week as “pleasant, but was just more of the same. … It’s time for the president to be serious, come back to us with a counter-offer.”

The main issue remains the president’s insistence that tax rates rise for the wealthy, which the GOP opposes, arguing raising the rates will hurt job creation more than raising revenue through other means.

“Nothing is going to be possible if the president insists on his position,” Boehner said.

Boehner also criticized a comment on television by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who said the White House was “absolutely” prepared to go over the fiscal cliff if Republicans did not agree to raise tax rates.

“I think that’s reckless talk,” Boehner said.

Obama has said repeatedly he wouldn’t sign any legislation that doesn’t include an increase in tax rates for the top 2 percent.

Obama is not only insisting Republicans agree to higher tax rates for the wealthy, but also wants a deal that addresses the $16.4 trillion debt limit. Federal borrowing is on track to hit that limit early next year.

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