House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took the unusual move on Tuesday of taking to the House floor to cajole President Obama and Democrats to propose specific spending cuts they would agree on as part of a plan to avert the fiscal cliff.
“The president and I met on Sunday at the White House. It was a nice meeting, a cordial meeting,” Boehner said. “But we’re still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the ‘balanced approach’ he promised the American people.”
The move came a day after Obama on Monday used a campaign-style appearance outside Detroit to press Boehner and congressional Republicans to pass a bill freezing middle-class tax rates—but not the soon-to expire rates on the rich.
After Boehner’s talk, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke in the chamber. She thanked Boehner for bringing an update on the nation’s fiscal challenges to the House floor. She then proceeded to call on House Republicans to allow a vote on Obama’s plan—already passed by the Senate—to freeze the rates set to expire at the beginning of the year for the middle class, but let the rates expire at upper incomes.
Pelosi also took issue with Boehner’s claim that Obama and Democrats have not identified spending cuts that they can support.
Boehner said on the House floor that the plan Republicans have offered is consistent with Obama’s call for a “balanced approach” that includes cutting spending.
“Last week, Republicans made a serious offer to avert the fiscal cliff, based on testimony last year by President Clinton’s former chief of staff, Erskine Bowles. As Mr. Bowles himself said on Sunday, ‘We have to cut spending,’ ” said Boehner.
Boehner then asked, “Where are the president’s spending cuts? The longer the White House slow-walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the cliff.”
He added, “Here’s what we do know: We know the president wants more new ‘stimulus’ spending and an increase in the debt limit without cuts or reforms. That’s not fixing our spending problem. It’s making it worse.”
And Boehner said that even if raising tax rates on many small-business owners—how Republicans have described allowing the tax rates to rise on incomes above $250,000 a year—“we would still have red ink as far as the eye can see.”
“That’s not fixing the problem—it’s making it worse and hurting our economy,” the speaker said.
Boehner concluded by saying, “I’m hopeful we will reach an agreement.” But he said, “the American people sent us here to work together toward the best possible solution, and that means cutting spending.”