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Administration, GOP Hold Fast to Tax Positions

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner arrives at the Capitol for meetings with House and Senate leaders Thursday.

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Boehner offered the Republican rebuttal to the White House media blitz, with Fox News reporting that his office reached out to them after Geithner was announced as a guest on all the major Sunday shows.

“The president and the White House have had three weeks, and this is the best we’ve got?” Boehner told “Fox News Sunday.” “Right now, I would say we’re nowhere. Period.”

The speaker was especially incredulous about changes in the practice of raising the debt ceiling.

“[It’s] silliness. Congress is never going to give up this power,” Boehner said, emphasizing the debt limit’s political value as a tool to force spending cuts. “It’s the only way to leverage the political process to create more change than it would if left alone.”

Boehner dismissed the Obama administration’s opening position, claiming the offer that was made this week included more stimulus spending than cuts. Though $1.2 trillion of discretionary spending cuts — half from domestic programs and half from military — are set to kick in at the beginning of 2013, Republicans especially are pushing for changes in the composition of the cuts.

“The president’s idea of a negotiation is ‘roll over and do what I ask,’” Boehner said.

When asked whether he would be willing to go over the cliff, Boehner did not offer a direct response.

“I’m determined to solve our debt problem. We have a spending problem, and it is going to be dealt with,” Boehner said. “We’re going to deal with America’s debt problem.”

The last in-person meeting between Obama and congressional leaders was Nov. 16. Officials had tentatively planned a meeting last week, but White House and Hill officials agreed that not enough progress was made to justify another high-level meeting. Staff work was minimal over the weekend but is expected to continue next week.

Other voices are continuing to weigh in on the debate, hoping to influence one or both sides.

“They’ve just been informed there’s no real reform in this budget at all,” Republican tax lobbyist Grover Norquist said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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