Obama, Boehner stand ground on fiscal cliff
Bush-era tax cuts remain primary sticking point
Washington's top Republican and Democrat minded their positions on Saturday ahead of plans for the two to meet face-to-face in an effort to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner summarized in their weekly addresses the positions each had laid out earlier in the week in separate post-election remarks.
"The message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual," Obama said in his weekly address.
Boehner said, "If there was a mandate in this election, it was a mandate to work together to do what's in the best interest of our country. And right now, what's best is getting our economy moving again and keeping it moving, so we can begin to restore our children's future."
Both men laid out their positions on Friday, Obama from the White House and Boehner at a Capitol Hill news conference. Later in the day, a Democratic aide said Obama had invited Boehner and other top congressional leaders to the White House next week, presumably to begin negotiating in person.
The primary sticking points to resolving the fiscal cliff -- a set of tax increases and spending cuts which economists predict would drop the U.S. economy back into recession -- are differences over for whom to extend the Bush-era tax breaks and how to reform expensive entitlement programs.
Boehner and Republicans favor extending the Bush tax cuts on all income, while Obama supports the extension on income under $250,000 and supports letting rates rise on income above that level.
"If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue, and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes," Obama said.
That would mean "accepting the damage it will do to our economy," Boehner said, expressing his support for "tax reform that closes special interest loopholes and lowers tax rates."
Lower tax rates and fewer loopholes would bring economic growth and a resulting increase in federal revenues, Boehner said.
After months of partisan mudslinging leading up to the election, this week's preludes to negotiations were notably tame and civil.
Boehner held a news conference on Friday where he declined to wade too deep into specifics, saying it could restrict his options at the negotiating table.
Obama also painted in broad strokes and will hold his first news conference since the summer this coming week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday.
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