WASHINGTON, D.C. — In advance of talks at the White House on Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she hoped leaders from both parties would use those discussions to agree on targets for spending cuts and new revenue to avert a “fiscal cliff” of mandated tax hikes and spending cuts.
“What we should do when we go in tomorrow – let us stipulate a set of numbers, what the goal is,” Pelosi told reporters. “Let’s at least have some markers that we agree on, so the target or the goalposts are not moved.”
“But I’m not here to say today what that is, because when you go to the table, maybe that framework will be determined tomorrow,” she said.
Although Pelosi would not address what specific top marginal tax rate would be acceptable to Democrats, she noted that allowing the tax cut on income exceeding $250,000 to expire would be “where a good deal of leverage is in these negotiations.”
President Barack Obama has said that he would prefer allowing the top rate to rise to 39.6 percent, but might accept something slightly lower, between 37 and 38 percent.
But Democrats have insisted that tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans must be allowed to expire as part of a solution that balances spending cuts with new revenue.
Republicans, meanwhile, have said that the government could draw sufficient revenue from closing tax loopholes and reforming entitlement programs, such as Medicare.
Pelosi, when asked whether “structural changes” to Medicare might be on the table, as Republicans have proposed, did not say she would reject such an idea wholesale.
“What do they mean by structural changes?” Pelosi said of Republicans. “And why are we relating revenue to Medicare and Medicaid? Those issues — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — they should be in their own realm.”