The public standoff over the fiscal cliff continued Tuesday, as Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued brief statements on the floor, even as rumors of progress behind closed doors continued to circulate around Washington.
The back-and-forth as the House gaveled in for the week illustrates that the parties are still publicly posturing as if they are far apart on the issues and, indeed, on how they view the debate.
Although Boehner met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Sunday and both sides say the lines of communication remain open, the speaker’s comments were made up of much of the same rhetoric he used when talks were at a standstill last week.
Of note is the fact that Boehner did not issue his comments at a press conference, where he would be subject to questions from reporters, but instead used the well of the House to make his pronouncements.
“A lot of people know that the president and I met on Sunday. It was a nice meeting, it was cordial,” the speaker said. “But we’re 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. You know, where are the president’s spending cuts?”
Boehner went on to say that Obama is slow walking the process and said the president is not serious because he is demanding tax increases, stimulus spending and a debt ceiling increase without any spending cuts or entitlement reforms.
Minutes later, Pelosi rebutted Boehner’s comments, illustrating the divide that still remains with just weeks to go before automatic spending cuts and tax increases begin to kick in.
She said Democrats have voted on spending cuts over the course of the last Congress and what stands in the way of progress on fiscal cliff negotiations is the GOP giving way on raising tax rates on the wealthy.
“Where are the revenues?” Pelosi asked. “Regardless of the cuts or changes in entitlements, more is demanded in terms of what seniors would have to pay into Medicare and at what age that would happen, while the Republicans refuse to touch one hair on the head of the wealthiest people in our country.”