GOP counter-offers Erskine Bowles to Obama’s la-la-land (Update — Obama rejects out of hand, wants his pound of tax rate increases)
Via The Hill (h/t Drudge):
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 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.
The GOP offer is a response to Obama’s opening bid, which called for $1.6 trillion in tax increases and reducing the power of Congress to block an increase in the debt ceiling….
He characterized it as a response to what he called the “la-la land” offer that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented to congressional leaders last week.
Here’s the key language from the letter, it’s really a “framework” for moving forward:
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.
Update: That was quick. In no time Obama rejected the counter-offer in a press statement which once again indicates that for Obama it’s not about dollars, it’s an emotional attachment to raising rates on those making $250,000:
The White House on Monday dismissed a Republican counteroffer to avert the so-called fiscal cliff as failing to “meet the test of balance” by resisting higher tax rates for the wealthy, a point that remains a key hurdle in the impasse over spending and revenues.
Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said in a statement that what congressional Republicans had billed as a “good-faith effort” to move toward compromise contained “nothing new” and offered no specifics on how they’d achieve revenue targets included in the plan.
He is a class warrior at heart. It’s about getting even and punishing people, not about dollars and cents.