Speaker John Boehner again tried to shift responsibility for the looming fiscal cliff to President Barack Obama, saying expiring tax rates and trillions of dollars in spending cuts are mostly his to solve.
"This is an opportunity for the president to lead," Boehner said Friday in the Capitol. "This is his moment to engage the Congress and work toward a solution that can pass both chambers."
Boehner struck a part conciliatory, part aggressive tone but stayed vague on the next few months in what's sure to be a tense Washington would look like.
The battle lines are clearly drawn. Boehner is trying to nudge Obama to extend all current tax rates through sometime next year, enter into talks to reform the Tax Code and reform entitlements during 2013.
Obama and Senate Democrats are scoffing at that demand, reminding Boehner that they won the election campaigning on raising rates above $250,000. Democrats want to vote on middle-income rates, and allow the top rates to increase to near 40 percent.
In that scenario, nearly $1 trillion in fresh revenue comes into government coffers -- enough to blunt automatic defense and discretionary cuts that will take hold Jan. 1. Congress also needs to extend a variety of other measures, including the farm bill and reimbursement rate for physicians treating Medicare patients.
Washington has to get its act together soon. Congress comes back next week for leadership elections and new-member orientation. Following that, D.C. quiets for Thanksgiving and then returns for what's expected to be several weeks of full-blown negotiations.
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