HATFIELD — President Barack Obama argued Friday that allowing taxes to rise for the middle class would amount to a lump of coal for Christmas, while Republican House Speaker John Boehner declared that negotiations to surmount a looming fiscal cliff are going almost nowhere.
Obama took his case to an audience in a Philadelphia suburb, saying that this move would present a Scrooge Christmas for millions of wage-earners. Speaking at a toy factory, the president said Republicans should extend existing Bush-era tax rates for households earning $250,000 or less, while allowing increases to kick in for the wealthy.
On Capitol Hill, Boehner argued that Obama's latest offer — to raise revenue by $1.6 trillion over the next decade — would be a crippling blow to an economy that is still struggling to find its footing. The Ohio Republican told reporters he would continue working with Obama to avoid hundreds of billions in tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect beginning in January if Washington doesn't act to stop it, but gave a gloomy assessment of the talks so far.
There's a stalemate. Let's not kid ourselves, Boehner said. Right now, we're almost nowhere.
Obama's speech came a day after his administration proposed $1.6 trillion in new taxes over 10 years, new spending for the unemployed and struggling homeowners and savings of about $400 billion in entitlement programs like Medicare. The proposal amounts to requests that were already in Obama's Fiscal 2013 budget plan. Republicans rejected the offer as unreasonable.
Obama said he believed both parties can and will work together to reach an agreement to get its long-term deficit under control in a way that's balanced and is fair.
In Washington, nothing's easy so there is going to be some prolonged negotiations and all of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen, he said. I'm willing to do that. I'm hopeful that enough members of Congress in both parties are willing to do that as well.