Both leaders mum on meeting details
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met Sunday at the White House to discuss the ongoing negotiations over the impending “fiscal cliff,” the first meeting between just the two leaders since they both won re-election.
Spokesmen for both Obama and Boehner said they agreed to not release details of the conversation, but emphasized that the lines of communication remain open.
The meeting comes as the White House and Congress try to break an impasse over finding a way to stop a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to kick in at the beginning of next year.
Obama met in November with Boehner, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The president spoke by telephone with Reid and in person with Pelosi on Friday.
Obama has been pushing higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as one way to reduce the deficit – a position Boehner and other House Republicans have been steadfastly against. Republicans are demanding steeper cuts in costly government entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
One GOP senator said Sunday that Senate Republicans would probably agree to higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans if it meant getting a chance to overhaul entitlement programs.
The comments by Bob Corker of Tennessee – a fiscal conservative who has been gaining stature in the Senate as a pragmatic deal broker – puts new pressure on Boehner and other Republican leaders to rethink their long-held assertion that even the very rich shouldn’t see their rates go up next year. GOP leaders have argued that the revenue gained by hiking the top two tax rates would be trivial to the deficit, and that any tax hike hurts job creation.
But Corker said insisting on that red line – especially since Obama won re-election after campaigning on raising tax rates on the wealthy – might not be wise.
“There is a growing group of folks looking at this and realizing that we don’t have a lot of cards as it relates to the tax issue before year end,” Corker told “Fox News Sunday.”
If Republicans agree to Obama’s plan to increase rates on the top 2 percent of Americans, Corker added, “the focus then shifts to entitlements and maybe it puts us in a place where we actually can do something that really saves the nation.”
Besides getting tax hikes through the Republican-dominated House, Corker’s proposal faces another hurdle: Democrats haven’t been receptive to GOP proposals on the entitlement programs. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Sunday was skeptical about proposals to increase the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. He said he doesn’t see Congress addressing the complicated issue of Medicare overhaul in the three weeks remaining before the end of the year.
“I just don’t think we can do it in a matter of days here before the end of the year,” Durbin said. “We need to address that in a thoughtful way through the committee structure after the first of the year.”
Durbin spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Political geeks may surpass even baseball nerds in their love of numbers. The American political system probably aids and abets this through a complicated set of rules, districts and qualifiers ...
A GRIP ON SPORTS • A weekend in late July. It’s more than 90 degrees outside. Is this the proverbial “dog days of summer?” Read on.
I scratched another back yard honey-do off my list this weekend already by finishing another one of those projects that had been on the waiting list for years. It involved ...
Today marks my 25th anniversary with The Spokesman-Review. Though things have changed quite a bit since I joined the newspaper as its Idaho editor in 1991, we’re still in the ...
sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.