WASHINGTON, (UPI) — House Speaker John Boehner says he was stunned by the “fiscal cliff” plan offered by U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who wants the rich to pay more taxes.
“I was flabbergasted,” the Ohio Republican told “Fox News Sunday” in describing Geithner’s private meeting with him last week.
“I looked him and said, ‘You can’t be serious,'” Boehner said. “I’ve just never seen anything like it. You know, we’ve got seven weeks between Election Day and the end of the year. And three of those weeks have been wasted with this nonsense.”
When asked about the chances of preventing more than $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts from kicking in, Boehner said: “Right now, I would say we’re nowhere, period. We’re nowhere.”
Boehner said Republicans have offered a way of breaking the stalemate — by compromising on an overhaul of the tax code that would limit deductions that disproportionately benefit the rich.
But Geithner rejected that proposal on five talk shows Sunday, insisting the wealthy must pay higher tax rates and saying Republicans must come forward with a plan that meets that requirement.
“There’s no path to an agreement that does not involve Republicans acknowledging that rates have to go up on the wealthiest Americans,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers propose letting the so-called George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, while leaving those same breaks in place for lower-income brackets.
Households earning more than $250,000 a year would see their income tax increase from 36 percent to as much 39.6 percent on income above $250,000.
Obama’s plan would raise roughly $1 trillion over 10 years and would raise another $600 billion over 10 years by changing the tax code by limiting tax breaks for those wealthy households, the White House says.
“There is just no reason why 98 percent of Americans have to see their taxes go up because some members of Congress on the Republican side want to block tax-rate increases for 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans,” Geithner said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Remember, those tax rates, those tax cuts, cost $1 trillion over 10 years,” he said. “There’s no responsible way we can govern this country at a time of enormous threat, and risk, and challenge, uncertainty, millions of Americans retiring, huge levels of poverty, inequality, huge under-investment in education and infrastructure, with those low rates in place for future generations.
“Those rates are going to have to go up,” he added. “That’s an essential part of a deal.”
Obama is to meet with governors this week, and address the politically conservative Business Roundtable lobby group representing big business, asking them to urge lawmakers to embrace his tax proposals.
Boehner is to meet with governors and rally with small-business owners against tax increases.