News / USA

US 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks Stall in Washington

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington to discuss the pending fiscal cliff, December 7, 2012.House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington to discuss the pending fiscal cliff, December 7, 2012.
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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington to discuss the pending fiscal cliff, December 7, 2012.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington to discuss the pending fiscal cliff, December 7, 2012.
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VOA News
Negotiations are at a stalemate in Washington on how to resolve a contentious end-of-year dispute over government spending and tax policies.

The Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, told reporters Friday that he had a pleasant telephone conversation with President Barack Obama earlier in the week. 

But Boehner said that no progress was made in reaching a compromise on averting what Washington is calling a "fiscal cliff," $600 billion in mandated spending cuts and tax increases that would hit most U.S. workers on January 1.

"This isn't a progress report, because there's no progress to report," said Boehner. "When it comes to the fiscal cliff that's threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the White House has wasted another week."

Obama, a Democrat re-elected last month to another four-year term, has proposed $1.6 trillion in new taxes over the next decade to cut the country's mounting debt.  He also wants to end a tax break for the country's wealthiest households, those making more than $250,000 a year.

His Republican opponents in Congress, including Boehner, countered with an offer to increase government revenue by $800 billion through elimination of tax loopholes, while leaving tax rates untouched, including those for people with the biggest incomes.

The president rejected the Republican plan, but Boehner said president is now obligated to offer a plan that can pass both the Republican-controlled House and the Senate, where there is a Democratic majority.

"If the president doesn't agree with our proposal, I believe that he's got an obligation to families and small businesses to offer a plan of his own, a plan that can pass both chambers of the Congress," he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Capitol Hill, Dec. 7, 2012House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Capitol Hill, Dec. 7, 2012
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Capitol Hill, Dec. 7, 2012
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Capitol Hill, Dec. 7, 2012
The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, said the House should approve a Senate-passed measure that would extend the tax cut for households with less than $250,000 in annual income.

But Republicans have so far declined to bring the legislation to a vote.

Economic analysts say the U.S. economy, the world's largest, could plunge into its second recession in three years if the impasse is not resolved and the cuts in key government programs and tax increases take effect.

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