The fiscal cliff stalemate continued on Capitol Hill today with Senate Republicans calling on the White House to stop wasting time and come to the negotiating table with a real proposal.
That would decidedly exclude the $1.6 trillion in tax hikes, new stimulus package, and elimination of the debt ceiling that provoked Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) laughter in a meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner last week.
“Frankly, I had hoped we would be accomplishing more in the real talks that are going on privately, but I can tell you, being aware of those, there’s nothing going on privately, there’s nothing going on publicly,” McConnell told reporters surrounded by other members of the GOP leadership today. “We’ve wasted an enormous amount of time here, sparring back and forth in public, and it strikes me it’s a good time to get serious about the proposals.”
“The Congress shall have power to borrow money on the credit of the United States. That’s the way it’s always been; that’s the way it’s going to continue to be,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
“We look forward to working with the president when he decides to get serious and when he really does make his bottom line policies that will promote jobs and growth for Americans,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement that President Obama has done nothing to show he doesn’t want to plunge off the fiscal cliff.
“The day after the election, I said that Republicans are willing to make concessions, but the President must be willing to lead,” Boehner said. “With our latest offer we have demonstrated there is a middle ground solution that can cut spending and bring in revenue without hurting American small businesses. The President now has an obligation to respond with a proposal that does the same and can pass both chambers of Congress.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), though, needled at Boehner, saying he can “sympathize” with the speaker.
“The Tea Party has a firm grip on the Republican Party, and that’s obvious, what’s happened this morning here in Washington. This vocal minority continues to exert tremendous influence over him and the Republicans in the House and in the Senate. They’re really out of step with the vast majority of the American people,” Reid said at a media availability after a closed policy luncheon.
“Yesterday, Speaker Boehner put forward a plan that for the first time put a revenue number on paper. The proposal is not nearly enough to restore fiscal responsibility, and it would hurt middle-class families, yet it’s apparently enough to make the Tea Party scream bloody murder,” Reid added, in apparent reference to Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) objections. “…We’re not going to twist ourselves into contortions to appease a vocal minority of the Tea Party.”