White House: Still Believe A Big Deal On Fiscal Cliff Possible

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-Can Reach A Deal Quickly If GOP Agree To Higher Tax Rates On Top 2%
-Parameters Of An Agreement ‘Very Clear’

By Brai Odion-Esene

WASHINGTON (MNI) – The White House Thursday said it still believes a “big
deal” on averting the looming “fiscal cliff” can be reached between the
administration and lawmakers, and argued that an agreement could be reached
quickly if Republicans gave up their opposition to higher tax rates for the very

“We still believe that a big deal is possible, we believe that the
parameters are there,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters
during a briefing.

Carney said a deal can be concluded rapidly once the GOP agree to the “very
clear” parameters of an agreement — that tax cuts on income up to $250,000 be
extended and that there are no tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans.

“We remain confident that if Republicans agree with the basic idea that
rates have to go up for the wealthiest, while we extend tax cuts for everyone
else, then we can reach a deal fairly quickly,” he said.

However, as the impasse over a deal to avert the looming fiscal cliff drags
on, Carney acknowledged that the administration and lawmakers are “close to a

“There’s no particularly reason why we can’t get this done very quickly
beyond the single obstacle here — which is the Republicans refuse to accept
that rates are going up on the top earners in this country,” he reiterated.

In a news conference earlier, House Speaker John Boehner accused President
Barack Obama of “just not been serious about cutting spending.” Carney countered
that “there is no specificity behind what the Republicans have put forward.”

There has been no change in Boehner’s stated position on raising new
revenues as part of any budget deal, he added, while Obama understands that he
will not get everything in his plan and is prepared to negotiate.

“But it is not a tenable position to say that the tax cuts for the wealthy
should be made permanent,” Carney said. “It’s not going to happen.”

As for the issue of the debt ceiling, Obama has requested that the
McConnell provision be made permanent — which allows the government to raise
the debt ceiling with Congress still allowed its approval, or disproval, of such
a move. Boehner, however, declared that Congress would never give up its control
over the nation’s purse strings.

“The American economy cannot afford the consequences of that kind of
gamesmanship,” Carney said, harking back to the debt crisis that brought the
country to the brink of default last year.

“It is punishing to the American economy,” he said.

–MNI Washington Bureau; tel: +1 202-371-2121; email: besene@mni-news.com

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