John Boehner declares a "stalemate" on the fiscal cliff:
Speaker John Boehner declared an impasse Friday negotiations with the White House over avoiding the fiscal cliff.
“There’s a stalemate,” Boehner said at a news conference. “Let’s not kid ourselves. I’m not trying to make this more difficult. If you’ve watched me over the last three weeks I’ve been very guarded in what I have to say, because I don’t want to make it harder for me or the president or members of both parties to find common ground.”
Okay, so if there's a stalemate, let's take a look at the Boehner/Republican position and compare it with the Obama/Democratic position.
President Obama and Democrats are saying that the most urgent fiscal issue facing the country is the expiration of tax cuts on income under $250,000. They say we should extend those tax cuts now, but let Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000 expire at the end the year. They also say that we should continue to look for ways to reduce the deficit through long-term spending reductions, but that we can't ignore the need for short-term measures to boost the economy—things like unemployment benefits and something to replace the payroll tax cut.
John Boehner and Republicans, meanwhile, say they agree that tax cuts on income below $250,000 should continue. However, they also say that tax cuts on income above $250,000 should continue as well. Moreover, they want to see cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, although they refuse to be specific about what cuts they'd like to see. They also say they want to raise revenue through tax reform, but again refuse to offer details. And they oppose any short-term efforts to boost the economy.
An outsider might look at those positions and say that there really isn't much of a stalemate over taxes, because both sides have the same position on tax rates for 98 percent of the public. The problem is that at least so far, Boehner and Republicans are saying they will only support tax cuts on income below $250,000 in exchange for continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and for agreeing to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. As a result, we do have a stalemate over tax cuts, but it's not because Republicans say they disagree with Democrats—instead, it's because Republicans think they can hold those tax cuts hostage.