By Kent Klein – WHITE HOUSE — Three weeks from the so-called fiscal cliff, the Obama administration and top Republican lawmakers are accusing each other of blocking progress toward an agreement to cut the U.S. budget deficit.
The Democratic administration and Republican leaders in Congress do not appear to be any closer to preventing a fiscal crisis that could jeopardize the nation’s economic recovery.
The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, accused President Barack Obama of dragging out the negotiations.
“A lot of people know that the president and I met on Sunday. It was a nice meeting. It was cordial. But we are still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make, as part of the ‘balanced approach’ that he promised the American people,” he said.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday it was the president, not the Republicans, who has made specific proposals for budget reductions.
“The president, unlike any other party to these negotiations, has put forward detailed spending cuts, as well as detailed revenue proposals,” he said.
Carney said Obama included 29 pages of planned spending cuts in his 2011 proposal to a congressional committee.
An estimated $600 billion in tax increases and government spending cuts are set to take effect January 1, unless Congress passes, and President Obama signs, legislation to prevent that from happening.
The president has mounted a campaign to draw public support for his fiscal plan. He says the proposal will help cut the deficit by raising taxes on the top 2 percent of income earners.
Republicans say the higher taxes on the rich would stifle job creation and slow economic growth. Many Republicans also charge that the administration has been more aggressive in advocating tax increases than in seeking spending cuts.
Speaker Boehner has said he favors tying the fiscal cliff talks in with negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, the amount of money the government is legally allowed to borrow.
Contentious talks in 2011 between the administration and Republican lawmakers over that issue led some rating organizations to downgrade their rating on U.S. government debt.