Boehner: Can we just be honest about this? We're broke.

On the House floor on Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner broke from the mutual semi-silence of what’s been going on between himself and President Obama on the fiscal-cliff negotiations, and informed the Congress that all he’s waiting on are some proposals for spending cuts from the White House on which they would be willing to make moves as part of the “balanced approach” we’ve heard so much about (emphasis mine):

The Republicans made a serious offer to avert the fiscal cliff… Let’s be honest, we’re broke. And the plan that we’ve offered is consistent with the president’s call for a balanced approach. A lot of people know that the president and I met on Sunday. It was a nice meeting, it was cordial. But we’re still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the balanced approach that he promised the American people. You know, where are the president’s spending cuts? The longer the White House slow walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff. … We know that the president wants more stimulus spending and an increase in the debt limit without any cuts or reforms. That’s not fixing the problem, frankly, it’s making it worse. On top of that, the president wants to raise tax rates on many small business owners. Now, even if we did exactly what the president wants, we would see red ink for as far as the eye can see. That’s not fixing the problem either, it’s making it worse and hurting our economy.

This is a point about which I don’t think Republicans are being nearly vocal enough: President Obama’s plan is nowhere near the realm of seriousness. He may have the bigger platform from which to trumpet the ostensible benefits of his plan, but the cold, hard reality is that he’s proposing a whole heap of new spending, and merely hiking taxes on the wealthy will do perilously close to nothing to help us bring down our deficit gap. Observe: Even if the president’s proposal works perfectly and brings in the amount of revenue the White House claims it will (I wouldn’t bet on it), a full three-quarters of these tax hikes would go toward new spending. Balanced approach, say what?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said much the same thing to his chamber during Tuesday’s proceedings — the White House needs to get serious and name their cuts.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, said Obama’s $400 billion spending cut proposal is “vague.”

“Until the president gets specific about cuts, nobody should trust Democrats to put a dime in new revenue toward real deficit reduction or to stop their shakedown of the taxpayers at the top 2%,” the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday on the Senate floor shortly before Boehner’s remarks. …

“Don’t you think (Obama) could put together a list of spending cuts that at least, at least includes robo-squirrel? We are still waiting,” McConnell said.

I’d say the onus is on the White House to present the other half of this mysteriously balanced approach they keep talking about. We get that the president would like to hike taxes, virtually eliminate the debt ceiling, and just leave the spending-cut plan for later next year; what else ya’ got?

Predictably, of course, the White House was not impressed.