In a letter sent to President Obama today, House Republican leaders made a new offer to avert the fiscal cliff centered around a middle ground approach first presented to Congress last year by President Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, Erskine Bowles. The Bowles plan, presented in 2011 to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, is consistent with the framework House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) proposed the day after the election: a balanced approach of significant spending cuts and new revenues from tax reform with fewer loopholes and lower tax rates. This is another attempt to jumpstart substantive, good faith negotiations toward a bipartisan solution that can be enacted soon, a stark contrast to the unserious proposal the White House put forward last week.And the answer? No thank you:
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer rejected Speaker of the House John Boehner's counter-proposal to avert the fiscal cliff in a statement to reporters Monday afternoon.Two things. First of all, what the hell is the "test of balance?" Second, how does it work when one side of a negotiation gets to determine that "balance" represents essentially getting whatever they want?
“The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance," Pfeiffer said. "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."
President Barack Obama has pledged to oppose any agreement that does not raise tax rates on the top two percent of wage-earners.
In other words, nothing happened yesterday. We'll check back if any news develops on this front. Not that we should expect any.