By DAVID ESPO and DONNA CASSATA
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ House Speaker John Boehner accused President Barack Obama on Tuesday of slow-walking negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and urged him to name specific cuts in government spending he would support as part of any compromise.
"Let's be honest. We're broke. The plan we offered is consistent with the president's call for a balanced approach," said the Ohio Republican, who has said he will accept higher tax revenue as part of a deal that also includes cuts in government benefit programs. "We're still waiting for the White House" to do the same.
The White House and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi countered the assertion within moments.
"The irony of this is that the White House offer had very specific cuts, the GOP counteroffer had almost none," tweeted the president's communications director, Dan Pfeiffer. White House aides circulated a summary pointing to more than $300 billion in proposed Medicare savings that are included in Obama's budget, as well as another $250 billion in non-health benefit programs.
There was no hint of progress in the flurry of public comments, although the rhetoric was kept relatively restrained, as if to avoid jeopardizing any negotiations that might be taking place.
In remarks on the House floor immediately after Boehner spoke, Pelosi also called on him and the Republican leadership to permit a vote on Obama's plan to extend expiring tax cuts for most Americans while letting them lapse at upper incomes. She predicted it would have "overwhelming support" â¿¿ even in the GOP-controlled House.
The day's events underscored the difficulty confronting the White House and congressional leaders as they struggle to avert across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts in government programs that are scheduled to take effect at the turn of the year. Economists say the combination could send the economy into recession.