President Barack Obama highlighted that in order to reach compromise he had moved off his initial demands for revenue (from $1.6 trillion to $1.2 trillion), agreed to entitlement reforms and already signed hefty spending cuts ($1 trillion as part of the Budget Control Act in 2011).
In his first Sunday show interview since the reelection, Mr Obama also noted that he was still waiting for Republicans to come closer to halfway.
“We have been talking to the Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers,” said the president, according to an advance transcript of the interview with host David Gregory.
He went on, adding: “[S]o far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don’t want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it’s been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit, as part of an overall deficit reduction package.”
Meanwhile, one hour before presenting the plan, congressional leaders admitted their inability to reach a compromise that would stop the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that would lead the American economy into recession.
“I’m concerned about the lack of urgency here. We all know we’re running out of time,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), adding that he had worked into the night Saturday to make an offer to the Democrats, but hadn’t received a response.
“There is far too much at stake for political gamesmanship,” he said, suggesting that Democrats were playing games. “The sticking point appears to be a willingness, an interest or frankly the courage to close the deal,” McConnell said.
“I want everyone to know I’m willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner,” McConnell continued, revealed that he had reached out to Vice President Joe Biden in hopes of breaking the logjam.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged that the sides were stuck, reports The Huffington Post.
“We’ve been trying to come up with some counteroffer to my friend’s proposal,” Reid said. “We’ve been unable to do that,” he added. “I’ve had a number of conversations with the president, and at this stage, we’re not able to make a counteroffer.”
A senior Republican aide said Democrats pushed two proposals and Republicans submitted four plans before negotiations stopped on Saturday at 7 p.m.
However, the aide didn’t disclosed what he thought John Biden could do at this point to reach a deal before the set deadline; instead, he pointed to the vice president’s history of helping in moments of crisis.
“We’ve had success in the past. The vice president has been able to resolve some of these situations that we’ve been stuck in at the last minute in the past,” the aide said. “Anybody who’s able to get a result here, we’re all for it.”