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U.S. fiscal cliff negotiations ongoing-Boehner aide

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 10 Dec 2012 17:08 GMT
Author: Reuters
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WASHINGTON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Negotiations between the White House and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on averting the Dec. 31 "fiscal cliff" are continuing but Republicans are awaiting a counter-offer from President Barack Obama, an aide to Boehner said on Monday.

"The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

He said Boehner continues to "wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make" in deficit-reduction negotiations.

Last week, Boehner and his House leadership team sent Obama a proposal they said would produce ${esc.dollar}2.2 trillion in new savings over 10 years. It included ${esc.dollar}800 billion in new revenues that would be achieved through comprehensive tax reform.

None of those new revenues would come from raising income tax rates on the 2 percent of families with the highest net incomes - a central Obama demand.

Democrats have rejected Boehner's proposal, insisting that tax rates on the rich must be nailed down before negotiatin g further on how to pro ceed wi th ta x reform efforts next year, along with new spending cuts for "entitlement" programs, such as the Medi care healthcare prog ram for the elderly.

The White House has proposed its own set of spending cuts that Republicans have rejected, arguing that they do not effectively deal with long-term rising costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs.

On Sunday, Boehner met with Obama at the White House. Steel, on Monday, said "discussions with the White House are taking place." He did not say whether more face-to-face meetings are scheduled between the two ke y principles in the conflict.

A Democratic aide, who asked not to be identified, said there was no indication that Sunday's talks between Obama and Boehner advanced efforts to avoid ${esc.dollar}600 billion in across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts that are due to begin in January if Congress and the White House cannot find a more suitable replacement.

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