Boehner: Spending, Not Taxes, Stalling Fiscal Cliff Deal

Speaker of the House signals Republicans will agree to higher tax rates on rich.

WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House John Boehner sought Thursday to build a case for blaming President Barack Obama for the lack of an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, saying the president has yet to get serious about spending cuts.

In a Capitol Hill press conference, Boehner is set to criticize Obama’s proposals to avoid trillions in mandatory cuts and tax increases as unbalanced, saying that Obama wants more stimulus instead of getting serious about reforms.

“It’s clear the president is just not serious about cutting spending,” Boehner will say. “But spending is the problem.”

But as striking was Boehner’s new focus on spending, a tacit signal that Republicans know that they will have to surrender on keeping tax rates on the highest earners at Bush-era levels. Obama has made raising the rates above 35% a prerequisite for any agreement.

“The president wants to pretend spending isn’t the problem,” Boehner will say. “That’s why we don’t have an agreement.”

The full excerpts are below:

“More than five weeks ago, Republicans signaled our willingness to avert the fiscal cliff with a bipartisan agreement that is truly balanced and begins to solve our spending problem. The president still has not made an offer that meets these two standards. Republicans have.

“While the president promised the American people a balanced approach, his proposals have been anything but that. He wants far more in tax hikes than spending cuts. And instead of beginning to solve our debt problem, he wants new ‘stimulus’ and the ability to raise the debt ceiling whenever he wants - without cuts and reforms.

“It’s clear the president is just not serious about cutting spending. But spending is the problem. How big a problem? Take a look at this chart prepared by Paul Ryan and the Budget Committee.

“Republicans want to solve the problem and get this spending line down. The president wants to pretend spending isn’t the problem. That’s why we don’t have an agreement.

“Unfortunately, the White House is so unserious about cutting spending that it appears willing to slow-walk our economy right up to – and over – the fiscal cliff.”

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