U.S. Treasury Secretary pressed Republicans to provide their own plan aimed to increase revenues and cut government spending and predicted that the party would agree to raise tax rates on the wealthiest to secure a deal by year-end to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
Geithner reiterated that tax rates on wealthy Americans needed to go up in order to reach a deal, dismissing much of the contentious rhetoric from last week as “political theater.”
“The only thing standing in the way of [a deal] would be a refusal by Republicans to accept that rates are going to have to go up on the wealthiest Americans. And I don’t really see them doing that,” Geithner said in one of the interviews.
The Secretary’s comment on the issue mark the latest round of talks focused on whether to extend the temporary tax cuts that originated under former President George W. Bush for all taxpayers, as Republicans suggest, or just for those with incomes under $250,000, as President Barack Obama and Democrats want.
Republicans, who prevail in the House of Representatives but are the minority in the Senate, have previously suggested raising revenues by limiting tax deductions, but they have largely held the line on increasing rates, The Huffington Post reports.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner accused President Obama of dawdling during the “Fox News Sunday” program, saying: “Right now, I would say we’re nowhere, period. We’re nowhere.”
The Speaker went on, adding that there’s “clearly a chance” lawmakers will not be able to strike a deal before Jan. 1 to avoid economic.
The Republican also claimed that the newly reelected President’s plan was nothing more than a time-killer.
“You know, we’ve got several weeks between election day and the end of the year, and three of those weeks have been wasted with this nonsense,” he fumed.
The Treasury Secretary was more optimistic than the Speaker, noting that he believed a deal would get done: “There’s not going to be an agreement without rates going up.”
Obama’s fellow added that Republicans will be responsible for the fall if they “force higher rates on virtually all Americans because they’re unwilling to let tax rates go up on 2% of Americans.”
According to The New York Daily News, Boehner’s criticism of Obama’s offer echoed invective of other Republicans after Geithner presented the administration’s plan in closed-door meetings Friday.
“I was just flabbergasted,” Boehner said of his reaction to Geithner’s pitch. “I looked at him and I said, ‘You can’t be serious.’ I’ve just never seen anything like it.”
He didn’t miss a chance to target the president’s call for $1.2 trillion in tax increases, suggesting the figure was double what Obama cited on the campaign trail — and included more spending than cuts.
“They wanted to extend unemployment benefits,” Boehner continued. “They wanted a new stimulus program for infrastructure. They wanted to extend some other tax breaks.”
“And all of this stimulus spending would literally be more than the spending cuts that he was willing to put on the table.”
Geithner, in his turn, insisted that Boehner’s outrage was rooted in his party’s post-election woes.
“The ball really is with them now,” he said. “They’re having a tough time trying to figure out what they can do, what they can get support from their members for — that’s understandable. We might need to give them a little more time to figure out where they go next.”