White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that “lines of communication are open” and that President Barack Obama still believes an agreement can be reached on the fiscal cliff following his Sunday meeting with Republican House Speaker John Boehner at the White House.“I can simply say that the lines of communication are open,” Carney told reporters on Air Force One. “You’ve seen that the President met with the Speaker. And we, broadly speaking, continue to engage in this process with important players and stakeholders.”
Although Carney declined to give any details about the substance of Sunday’s talks, his relative silence is likely good news, indicating that both parties have moved beyond the period of public posturing and are now getting into a more substantive discussions about what a deal will entail.
“…our interest is in seeing if we can reach an agreement and not trying to negotiate an agreement through the media,” Carney told reporters, per a White House transcript. “And I am entirely sympathetic to the interest that you have in this, but we believe that it’s in the best interest of the prospects of getting an agreement to not read out the details of conversations that the President has with the Speaker, or other conversations that hopefully will make it possible to get an agreement.”
The Wall Street Journal seems to have corroborated this theory Monday afternoon:
Photo: Twitter / @djfxtrader
Still, Carney did say Monday that the White House is still waiting for Republicans to provide specifics on how far they are willing to go to raise revenues:
“The fact is we have put forward specific spending cuts. The President is the only party that has put forward a plan that has specificity on both the spending and revenue side. We have not seen in any detail from the Republicans, including from the offer that was put forward by the Speaker in his letter, the kind of detail that would allow us to assess the proposal. To say, for example, on revenue that we can achieve $800 billion, which is far, far short of the necessary revenue for a comprehensive deal that achieves $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and to achieve that only through unnamed closures of loopholes and unnamed reductions to caps and deductions — it doesn’t really get you very far.”
The Obama administration has demanded that any deal on the fiscal cliff must include an expiration of the Bush tax rates for those earning more than $250,000, although Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that they are not demanding that tax rates for the wealthy rise to Clinton-era levels.
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