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FILE - This Nov. 9, 2012 file photo shows House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio

Susan Walsh, Associated Press - Ap

TV jousting reflects political posturing

  • Article by: ZACHARY A. GOLDFARB
  • Washington Post
  • December 2, 2012 - 10:02 PM

WASHINGTON - As the White House and GOP leaders enter the final month of negotiations to avoid a year-end "fiscal cliff," both sides struck an uncompromising tone Sunday, as warnings mounted that they will be unable to forge an agreement to stop an automatic series of deep spending cuts and large tax hikes that could push the economy into recession.

Following private meetings last week, the senior negotiators for the White House and the Republicans took to the airwaves Sunday to accuse the other side of intransigence and to demand that the opposition concede on the central question of how much to raise taxes on the wealthy.

"Right now, I would say we're nowhere, period. We're nowhere," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on "Fox News Sunday." Boehner added that the Republicans have offered a way to break the stalemate -- by compromising on an overhaul of the tax code that would limit deductions that disproportionately benefit the rich.

But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner rejected that proposal, insisting that the wealthy pay higher tax rates and that Republicans come forward with a plan that meets that requirement. "There's no path to an agreement that does not involve Republicans acknowledging that rates have to go up on the wealthiest Americans," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

While it had always seemed likely that the two sides would reach a stalemate before finally coming to agreement, lawmakers and congressional aides tracking the back-and-forth said there's a growing probability that no deal will be reached in time to avoid the fiscal cliff.

"I think we're going over the cliff," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Geithner appeared on five Sunday morning news shows -- and Boehner on one -- amid an intensifying public-relations blitz. President Obama on Friday took his first domestic trip -- to the Philadelphia suburbs -- since winning reelection to press Republicans, which was followed by a Boehner news conference.

This week, Obama will meet with governors and make a speech to the Business Roundtable to urge lawmakers to embrace his proposals. Boehner will meet with governors and rally with small-business owners against tax hikes.

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