News / USA

US Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Struggling

House Speaker John Boehner Dec. 12, 2012House Speaker John Boehner Dec. 12, 2012
House Speaker John Boehner Dec. 12, 2012
House Speaker John Boehner Dec. 12, 2012
U.S. President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans remained far apart on Wednesday in their positions as negotiations continue to avert the fiscal cliff of expiring tax cuts and government spending cuts at the end of the year.

Although Obama and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, continue to speak by telephone, and their aides confer, public statements indicate that major differences remain.

Wednesday began with Boehner accusing the president of failing to put forward specifics, asserting Obama has proposed mainly tax and spending increases.

"The plan does not fulfill his promise to bring a balanced approach to solving this problem.  It is mainly tax hikes.  And his plan does not begin to solve our debt crisis; it actually increases spending," Boehner said.

"What we hear from the president is continuing discussion only on one side of the ledger.  It has been about tax rate increases, and nothing about spending," said Eric Cantor, the Republican House Majority leader.

Press secretary Jay Carney said Obama believes a deal can be achieved, but will not yield on his pledge to extend Bush-era tax cuts for lower income earners, while asking wealthier Americans to pay more.

"He is eager to find a compromise, he understands that would require tough choices by him and Democrats.  But a position that says we want tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and that is our No. 1 priority, is not a position that the president could ever sign on to," Carney said.

Carney said he would not dispute reports citing unnamed congressional and other officials, describing Obama's conversation with Boehner the previous day as tense.

New details emerging Wednesday included an apparent Boehner proposal to permanently extend Bush-era tax rates for all taxpayers, including the top 2 percent.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader in the House, said Republicans have failed to lay specifics on the table.

"All we have seen from them is a letter, all we heard from them is they don't want to tax the rich, all we know is that the public is very much on board with everyone in the country paying his or her fair share," Pelosi said.

The two sides continue to argue over the specific amount of revenue that would be raised from tax increases.  Republicans offered $800 billion through unspecified tax reform steps Congress could take next year.

President Obama is now seeking $1.4 trillion in new revenue as part of a broader deficit reduction deal.  The president says he is willing to make "tough decisions" regarding reforms of huge government entitlement programs.

From U.S. city mayors visiting the White House, including Mayor Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Florida,  Obama heard concerns about the negative effects on the economy of falling over the fiscal cliff.

"We think we need to get an agreement on this fiscal cliff.  Let there be certainty for the markets to operate, for investors to put their money into growth, and we will see the economy grow significantly as a result of that," Buckhorn said.

The chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, said uncertainty about the fiscal cliff is already hurting the U.S. economy.

Opinion polls continue to show President Obama has an advantage in the fiscal talks.  An ABC News/Washington Post poll found 49 percent approving of Obama's approach in the talks, with just 25 percent approving of Boehner's.

According to another poll by Bloomberg, 65 percent of Americans, including 45 percent of Republicans surveyed, say Obama won a mandate in the November election for his effort to raise taxes on higher income Americans.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs