The U.S. president revealed that he was puzzled over what was holding up the talks and urged Republicans to stop worrying about scoring “a point against the president” or forcing him into concessions “just for the heck of it.”
“It is very hard for them to say yes to me,” he told a news conference in the White House. “At some point, you know, they’ve got to take me out of it.”
On Wednesday, President Obama threatened to veto the Republican measure, the so-called “Plan B,” which would raise taxes on households making more than $1 million, if Congress approved it.
White House communication director Dan Pfeiffer described the Republican back-up plan as unbalanced.
“The congressional Republican ‘plan B’ legislation continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals – on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 – while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on.”
Pfeiffer continued: “This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the president would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage.”
Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck replied: “The White House’s opposition to a back-up plan to ensure taxes don’t rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day.”
Boehner added that he believed the House would pass the legislation on Thursday. He urged Obama to “get serious” about a balanced deficit reduction plan, Chicago Tribune writes.
Meanwhile, top Obama administration officials report they no formal talks have been conducted with Boehner’s office since Monday.
The president seems to be optimistic that he could reach an agreement with the Boehner, the speaker of the House and the Republican leader in Congress. The two sides were not that far apart, he said.
“I’d like to get it done before Christmas. There’s been a lot of posturing up on Capitol Hill instead of going ahead and getting stuff done, and we’ve been wasting a lot of time,” Obama said.
Congress had been scheduled to end its work last week, but legislators returned to Washington on Monday as they were warned to be ready to stay until Christmas and return after the holiday until year-end.
“It appears at this stage – we’ll see if anything changes – but it appears we’re going to be coming back the day after Christmas to complete work on the fiscal cliff,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Monday.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said a deal would have to be reached by Christmas to allow time for the legislative process to approve the required measure or measures by the end of the year.
Wall Street is on edge over the fiscal cliff negotiations though investors still hope a deal will be reached. The S&P 500 stock index slipped 0.76 percent on Wednesday.