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Defiant Boehner presses for 'fiscal cliff' cuts

December 13, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli

WASHINGTON – House Speaker John A. Boehner broke out the charts Thursday to make his case that spending cuts must be part of any year-end budget deal with President Obama.

“It’s this issue – spending!” said Boehner, pointing to the chart beside him in the Capitol.

“Spending is the problem,” he said. “That’s why we don’t have an agreement.”

Negotiations over the looming “fiscal cliff” – the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that take effect next year – appear to have come to a standstill. Democrats are in no rush to suggest additional reductions to domestic programs, pushing the responsibility back to Boehner to outline the kinds of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Republicans want.

The Ohio Republican is under immense pressure from conservatives in the House GOP majority not to yield to Obama’s call to raise taxes on wealthy households without serious reductions in the federal budget. His use of a budget chart from Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the former vice presidential nominee, gave nod to the importance of the party’s conservative flank -- and Ryan’s influence as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

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If no agreement is reached, taxes on virtually all Americans will rise as the current lower income tax rates expire on Dec. 31 -- a $2,200 hit to the average American household.

Obama has been pressing Republicans to pass legislation that would prevent the tax hike on all but the top 2% of households, couples earning more than $250,000 a year or $200,000 for individuals.

Amid the offers and counteroffers, the White House has agreed to some reductions -- but Republicans are asking for more than twice as much in cuts as Obama has proposed.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that any discussion of cuts to the safety net entitlement programs, beyond the trims Obama has already proposed, “should be left to next year.”

Washington should not go after “the scalp of seniors before you will cut the hair on the head of the wealthiest,” Pelosi said.

QUIZ: How much do you know about the fiscal cliff?

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Lisa.Mascaro@latimes.com

Michael.Memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @LisaMascaroinDC

@Mikememoli


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