After several days of silence in the ongoing fiscal talks, there was a flurry of activity yesterday, with President Obama and House Speaker Boehner not only speaking to one another, but even trading new offers in the hopes of moving closer to a resolution. So, is this evidence of progress? Not really.
For his part, the president is making new concessions, telling the Republican leader he would accept $1.4 trillion in new revenue – down from $1.6 trillion in his previous proposal – and Obama is prepared to take a package that includes $600 billion in spending cuts, which is $200 billion more than the president originally planned.
But if there were hopes that Boehner would reciprocate in kind, those hopes were soon dashed.
Two sources familiar with the Obama-Boehner call yesterday described it to NBC News as a “tense” conversation. Amid dueling, new proposals, Boehner proposed a permanent extension of existing tax rates for the wealthy, a Democratic source familiar with the call told NBC’s Kristen Welker.
In other words, with time running out, Boehner’s first offer made no concessions whatsoever. His second offer seeks to permanently lock in lower rates on income above $250,000 – the one thing the president has said cannot be included in any deal.
It’s almost as if the Speaker isn’t serious about working towards a resolution to the standoff he and his party chose to create.
In the meantime, Boehner also hasn’t detailed specifically what he wants in the form of entitlement cuts, nor has he spelled out how he expects to find $800 billion in new revenue without touching tax rates.
House GOP leaders told their members this morning that it’s likely they’ll have to work the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Of course, if Boehner is still demanding a permanent tax break for millionaires and billionaires, it’s hard to see the point of even continuing with the talks.