Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner challenged Republicans to show their cards on reaching a fiscal cliff agreement, if they have them, on Sunday’s Meet the Press.
Geithner dismissed Republican criticism of his proposed budget as “political theatre” and said that, even with comprehensive entitlement reforms, there can be no deal without also increasing taxes.
“The only thing that stands in the way of a deal right now is if a group of Republican members wants to block it,” Geithner said.
The current proposal, in addition to raising $1.6 trillion through taxes, also makes cuts to foreign subsidies and modest increases to healthcare premiums for high-income Medicare recipients—among other entitlement reforms popular with Republicans—for a total of $600 billion in savings.
The new round of savings follows the $1 trillion in cuts the Obama administration has already enacted, which will kick in over the next ten years, Geithner said.
The secretary and President Barack Obama are betting that Republicans will not make the politically unpopular move of sacrificing middle-class tax cuts just to ensure that the country’s top 2% of income earners keep their low tax rates. Geithner added that there was no precedent for Republicans’ obstruction in reaching a budget deal in 2011 and that the administration was not prepared to leave the economy and Americans’ savings, “under the periodic threat of default by the Republican party.”
Having made his argument for shoring up the recovery, Geithner invited Republicans to show their own plan.
“We need to know what they’re prepared to do on rates and revenues and what they’re prepared to do on spending cuts,” he said. “We can’t react to anything until we see the details of a proposal.”