HATFIELD, Pa. -- The key players in a looming budget crisis talked to news cameras Friday rather than to each other, each accusing the other side of blocking progress.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Friday that budget talks with the White House to avert the so-called fiscal cliff were "nowhere" as his aides called an Obama administration's budget proposal "unserious." President Obama, meanwhile, visited a Pennsylvania toy factory, where he accused congressional Republicans of holding lower income-tax rates for the middle class "hostage" to prevent tax hikes on higher incomes.
Boehner, who panned Obama's offer when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented it to him Thursday, chastised the president Friday for going on the road instead of sitting at the negotiating table.
"There's a stalemate here. Let's not kid ourselves," Boehner said. "Right now, we're almost nowhere."
Boehner said he'd been operating in good faith with the White House, and he expressed annoyance at what he considers foot-dragging by the administration.
"So the day after the election I said the Republican majority would accept new revenue as part of a balanced approach that includes real spending cuts and reforms," he said. "Now, the White House took three weeks to respond with any kind of proposal. And much to my disappointment, it wasn't a serious one."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., signaled Friday that Geithner's proposal was a starting point, not the final product from the White House and congressional Democrats.
"This is a democratic process," Hoyer said. "They have views, and we're going to have to accommodate their views, and hopefully they're going to have to accommodate our views."
He added: "I don't think it's a take-it-or-leave-it offer. I think it is, frankly, responsive to what the Republicans said they wanted, which is a specific offer."