By DAVID ESPO
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A year-end deadline approaching, quiet negotiations to avoid an economy-rattling "fiscal cliff" yielded no tangible signs of progress on Monday as Republicans pressed President Barack Obama to volunteer spending cuts he will support while the White House insisted the GOP endorse higher tax rates on upper incomes.
At a campaign-style event in Michigan, Obama warned his listeners their taxes will rise on Jan. 1 without action by the Congress. "That's a hit you can't afford to take," he declared.
He spoke one day after meeting privately at the White House with House Speaker John Boehner, whose office expressed frustration with the talks to date."We continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the 'balanced' approach he promised the American people,'" said a written statement from the Ohio Republican's office. The negotiations are designed to prevent across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to begin at the turn of the year, a combination that economists say poses the threat of a new recession. While leaders in both parties say they are eager to avoid that "cliff," efforts to agree on a plan to cut deficits by other measures have turned into a major postelection showdown between opposing sides in a divided government. After meeting with Boehner on Sunday, Obama dispatched a top aide to the Capitol to continue talks with the speaker's staff, but officials in both parties said they knew of no progress as a result. Obama spoke with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., by phone on Monday, as he has consulted with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California in recent days. The White House did not dispute that the president was prepared to modestly scale back his initial demand for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over a decade, twice as much as Boehner has offered.