President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House Sunday in an effort to make some headway in the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations.
A White House statement on the meeting revealed little from the conversation but suggested the two sides want to keep talking.
“This afternoon, the President and Speaker Boehner met at the White House to discuss efforts to resolve the fiscal cliff. We’re not reading out details of the conversation, but the lines of communication remain open,” the statement read.
The looming cliff, which would trigger a round of severe spending cuts and higher tax rates, is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.
Rolling back the Bush-era tax cuts for the nation’s top 2% of income earners remains the key sticking point in the negotiations. President Obama campaigned and won on that proposal, but the GOP maintains that raising taxes will hurt the delicate economic recovery and will consent only to raise tax revenue by eliminating unspecified loopholes and deductions in the tax code. It also is demanding cuts to entitlement programs to offset the budget deficit.
Recently, however, some Republicans have indicated that preserving the middle-class tax cuts would likely pass the House. That would give the GOP almost no leverage to fight the end of the cuts for earners.
“This doesn’t say we’re going to raise taxes on anybody, it says OK, this group for sure, your taxes aren’t going up,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a deputy majority whip, to CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.
“Get that done with, get it over with,” Cole said.
A majority of Americans also favor raising taxes on the rich. A Politico poll released Monday indicated that 60% of Americans approve of raising taxes on households that earn more than $250,000 a year.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) acknowledged that Democrats have won the public argument on raising taxes on the wealthy but said that conceding this round would give Republicans greater leverage in upcoming negotiations on the debt ceiling.
“The leverage is going to shift, to our side where hopefully we’ll do the same thing we did last time, and that is, if the president wants to raise the debt limit by $2 trillion, we get $2 trillion in spending reduction and, hopefully, this time, it is mostly oriented towards entitlement and with no process,” Corker said on Fox News Sunday.
For his part, President Obama continued to take his case directly to the public. Monday afternoon he was expected to speak at a diesel plant in Detroit.