Signs of progress for the "fiscal cliff" negotiations came to a screeching halt on Wednesday when House Speaker John Boehner signaled that he and the White House remain far apart, ultimately warning his fellow lawmakers that they might have to work through the Christmas holidays.
Boehner told his fellow Republicans Wednesday not to make plans for Christmas, CBS News has learned, and members said there were no indications from Boehner's remarks that any real progress has been made between the two chief negotiators involved in the process: Boehner and President Obama.
As behind-the-scenes talks continue, Republicans say publicly that the president's latest proposal, which includes $1.4 trillion - down from $1.6 trillion - in tax revenue is still far more than they are willing to swallow. The only GOP proposal that has been made public so far would cut $900 billion in spending and raise $800 billion in revenues, which would be achieved by closing unspecified loopholes and deductions rather than increasing rates.
Boehner cast Mr. Obama's plan as "mainly tax hikes" and said it "does not meet the two standards that I laid out the day after the election." The key question, however, is whether or not Boehner is actually open to the idea of raising any rates at all. Despite recent openness by some Republicans to do so, and hints from Boehner that the wealthy will have to pay more under a "fiscal cliff" deal, White House press secretary Jay Carney said today there's "no indication yet" Boehner is currently on that page.
Meantime, Politico reports that Boehner might not be wedded to the $800 billion revenue number in his proposal, though that alone is not likely to break the logjam in the negotiations:
House Speaker John Boehner privately told President Barack Obama that he's prepared to consider more than the $800 billion the GOP has already proposed in new tax revenues -- but only if the White House will back much deeper cuts to entitlement programs, according to several sources familiar with the talks.
Getting beyond $800 billion in revenue without raising tax rates on upper-income families would be difficult. Obama has long demanded that marginal income rates go up on the top 2 percent of Americans.
But for the time being, Boehner's private concession might not be the breakthrough the fiscal talks need. The White House has been resistant to additional entitlement savings -- their proposal has been stuck at $600 billion, and their revenue target is pegged at $1.4 trillion. Republicans insist a revenue increase that large could never pass the House or Senate
A new poll reveals what other recent polls have shown: Americans want compromise. They support what many Republicans do not: making the wealthy pay a higher tax rate to help avoid the "cliff." Additionally, the poll from the Wall Street Journal and NBC indicates that entitlement cuts aren't off the table for Americans, although the Democrats are steadfastly against that idea.
About two-thirds of Americans of all political stripes would like Congress to strike a deal to reduce the federal budget deficit, even if means cutting Social Security and Medicare and boosting some tax rates, the survey released Wednesday found.
An even larger share--more than three-quarters of Americans, including 61% of Republicans--said they would accept raising taxes on the wealthy in order to avoid a "fiscal cliff" of large spending cuts and tax increases now set to take place in January.
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