Boehner counterpunches Obama’s cliff offer

posted at 4:21 pm on December 3, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Last week, the White House tried (or at least, tried to appear like they were sincerely trying) to grease the skids on the fiscal cliff negotiations with a proposal that included $1.6 trillion in new taxes and the virtual elimination of the debt ceiling — a proposal to which Republicans responded with open laughter.

On Monday, the House GOP counter-offered their own jumping-off point, calling for $800 billion in new revenue via tax-code reform and spending cuts and entitlement reforms that would trim off a couple trillion from the budget. Looks like Mary Katharine and Guy Benson came pretty close to calling it, with some variation. Via The Hill:

House Republican leaders have made a counteroffer to President Obama in the fiscal cliff negotiations, proposing to cut $2.2 trillion with a combination of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and $800 billion in new tax revenue.

The leaders delivered the offer to the White House on Monday with a three-page letter signed by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and four other senior Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the party’s just-defeated vice presidential nominee.

Republican officials said the offer was based on a proposal outlined by Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, in testimony last year before the congressional “supercommittee” on deficit reduction. That offer is distinct from the widely-cited Simpson-Bowles deficit plan released two years ago.

And, in Boehner’s own words:

With the fiscal cliff nearing, our priority remains finding a reasonable solution that can pass both the House and the Senate, and be signed into law in the next couple of weeks.  The best way to do this is by learning from and building on the bipartisan discussions that have occurred during this Congress, including the Biden Group, the Joint Select Committee, and our negotiations leading up to the Budget Control Act.

For instance, on November 1 of last year, Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of your debt commission, presented the Joint Select Committee with a middle ground approach that garnered praise from many fiscal watchdogs and nonpartisan experts.  He recommended that both parties agree to a balanced package that includes significant spending cuts as well as $800 billion in new revenue.

Notably, the new revenue in the Bowles plan would not be achieved through higher tax rates, which we continue to oppose and will not agree to in order to protect small businesses and our economy.  Instead, new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates.  On the spending side, the Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending.  These cuts would be over and above the spending reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act.

This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform.  Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs.  We believe it warrants immediate consideration.

If you are agreeable to this framework, we are ready and eager to begin discussions about how to structure these reforms so that the American people can be confident that these targets will be reached.

As Jim Pethokoukis points out, by the White House’s own calculations, $800 billion is in the ballpark of doable:

Consider the example of a $25,000 cap on itemized deductions, which some claim would raise in the range of $1 trillion or more from high-income households:

  1. Limiting the cap to those with incomes over $250,000 leaves only $800 billion in revenue. A $25,000 cap that applied to all households would raise taxes by an average of $2,400 on 17 million households with incomes below $250,000 ($200,000 for singles). Treasury estimates show that about 40 percent of the revenue from such a cap would come from these households. Thus, the amount of revenue that could be raised from taxpayers making more than $250,000 is only about $800 billion.

The Democrats have been insisting that major entitlement reform is not on the table, and their desire to not go over the fiscal cliff is becoming highly suspect. They’ve been rabble-rabble-rabbling about how Republicans need to introduce a concrete negotiating platform of their own, so here it is, and Republicans have now officially outlined the specific concessions they’re willing to make on increasing revenue (which is, by the way, a huge concession in and of itself that Democrats have hardly deigned to notice). Will they finally come to the table in good faith?

Update: I’m going to further ponder my own exit question here — Guy Benson has more on the politics of it all, and as he points out, the Republicans need to get crackin’ on getting the media to sit up and take notice. They’ll have to come in loud and clear that they’ve produced a mature, serious plan that has something for everybody, avoiding both the fiscal cliff and the extent of economic damage that we’d see with Obama’s plan — so the Democrats can feel free to quit pointing fingers any time now.


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Constitutionally, all revenue bills start in the House, period. If Obama wants something, he has to go through the House. If Boehner intends to allow Obama to by-pass the House, he’s a bigger loser than I already think he is. Obama is only willing to do this stuff because he has the MSM behind him, no matter if it’s constitutional or not.

The Republican Party needs to realize it’s in a war, not only for the survival of the party, but for the survival of the country. If we allow Obama to continue to ursurp the Constitution, we won’t have a country, by the time he’s done with 4 years. The pity is our best hope is a Repubican Party led by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, both of whom seem to be willing to compromise on issues of power for their respective offices. Until John Boehner realizes he is 3rd in line to the Presidency, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and a political powerhouse in his own right, he will never get Obama to compromise.

bflat879 on December 3, 2012 at 8:42 PM

“The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve. Independent analysts who have looked at plans like this one have concluded that middle class taxes will have to go up to pay for lower rates for millionaires and billionaires. “

ha ha ha nice try boehner

Dave Rywall on December 3, 2012 at 8:56 PM

Dave Rywall on December 3, 2012 at 8:56 PM

Ha ha ha. Nice link, drywall.

You’re an idiot.

btw, you find a job yet, loser? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Solaratov on December 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Send it to every media outlet and offer up someone to speak in it’s favor. When on, discuss how it is “balanced”, and originally proposed by Erskine Bowles, a Democrat. The point to this is not to get it to pass, but to attempt to be competitive in the media war.

PS. The media had fits over the 10-1 offer in the debates, discuss how this is better than what the leftist media asked for.

Tater Salad on December 3, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Exactly right. No, it’s not a great plan, but it beats kowtowing to the Democrats who are interpreting their razor-thin margin as some kind of mandate.

This whole thing is a political battle, and if the GOP doesn’t want to get rolled for the next four years straight, they need to make counterproposals and fight for them in the arena of public opinion.

This is a good first step. And better than I really expected from Boehner.

Now comes the hard part: fighting to convince the American people that it is the House that is serious about ending the fiscal cliff, and that the Democrats are the party that just wants political advantage.

If the American public becomes convinced that Democrats are throwing away a chance to help the economy so they can try to seize political advantage, then the whole tide of this battle turns.

Just remember not to expect any help from the media.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 3, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Cut $2.2 trillion with a combination of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and $800 billion in new tax revenue.
o Of course $800 Billion in new revenue won’t do anything but provide Obama with $800 Billion more to spend – it wouldn’t cover 1 year of his deficit-spending, but neither would the $1.6 Trillion he intends to collect over 10 years under his plan. Obama’s plan is MORONIC — planning to raise $1.6 Trillion in revenue through taxes over TEN YEARS…WHILE YOU ARE ADDING AN AVERAGE $1.2 TRILLION IN NEW DEBT EVERY YEAR…is CRIMINALLY moronic!

If you are going to counter-punch, go for the knock-out blow — demand that an annual budget be passed…IMMEDIATELY…& every year, as the LAW REQUIRES!

easyt65 on December 4, 2012 at 8:21 AM

Obama is in a ‘Win-Win’ situation: If the GOP caves he gets everything he wants. If the GOP walks away, the Bush-Obama Tax cuts end & everyone’s taxes goes up (even more than they will thanks to Obamacare).

Obama is showing his hand:
o $10 million in new revenue over 10 years while adding $1.2 Trillion in new debt EVERY year won’t make a dent in his deficit spending & will not reduce the total debt. His new taxes WILL, however, hurt the economy.
o He is adding 60 new regulations a day, strangling job creation/growth in the US just as France is/has done.
o He demands $50 Billion more in Stimulus Spending
o His demand for the elimination of the debt ceiling is an ALARMING sign that he not only does not care about the deficit or the fact that our Credit Rating has been down-graded twice but it is also a signal that he is intent on destroying this nation. The CBO already said the current $16 Trillion debt is ‘UN-SUSTAINABLE’! They also stated the debt will hit $20 Trillion in approximately Obama’s THIRD year of his 2nd term.

Obama’s offer is nothing but smoke & mirrors…much like Iran, I believe he is trying to make it look like he is trying to compromise while stalling for time. I believe the Narcissist will eventually end the negotiations & declare he must take action on his own to save the country – at that point he will truly do whatever he wants…..eliminate the debt ceiling, start spending more, nationalize even more….This will be his transformation into a Chavez-like ‘leader’.

easyt65 on December 4, 2012 at 8:31 AM

…That is unless Boehner caves….again.

easyt65 on December 4, 2012 at 8:32 AM

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