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Boehner on averting fiscal cliff: ‘God only knows’


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Earlier in the week, Boehner and Obama had significantly narrowed their differences on a compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff.

But Republican officials said members of the GOP leadership had balked at the terms that were emerging. Democrats said Boehner’s abrupt decision to shift to his Plan B — legislation drafted unilaterally by Republicans — reflected a calculation that he lacked support from his own members to win the votes needed for the type of agreement he was negotiating with the president.

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By any measure, the two bills in the House were far removed from the latest offers that officials said Obama and Boehner had tendered. The two men don’t seem to be that far apart.

Obama is now seeking $1.2 trillion in higher tax revenue, down from the $1.6 trillion he initially sought. He also has softened his demand for higher tax rates on household incomes so they would apply to incomes over $400,000 instead of the $250,000 he cited during his successful campaign for a new term.

He also has offered more than $800 billion in spending cuts over a decade, half of it from Medicare and Medicaid, $200 billion from farm and other benefit programs, $100 billion from defense and $100 billion from a broad swath of government accounts ranging from parks to transportation to education. In a key concession to Republicans, the president also has agreed to slow the rise in cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs, at a savings estimated at about $130 billion over a decade.

By contrast, Boehner’s most recent offer allowed for about $940 billion in higher taxes over a decade, with higher rates for annual incomes over $1 million.

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Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.




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