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Wednesday
Dec122012

Boehner and Obama Still 'Far Apart' on Fiscal Cliff 

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- While a rapid succession of proposals and counteroffers have been traded back and forth between the White House and Capitol over the past few days, House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday that the two sides are not close to a deal. 

He also continued to criticize the president’s plan for containing too much tax revenue while failing to address the country’s long-term problems with the deficit.

“The president's plan to avert the fiscal cliff still does not meet the two standards that I laid out the day after the election,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.  “His plan does not fulfill his promise to bring a balanced approach to solving this problem.  It's mainly tax hikes, and his plan does not begin to solve our debt crisis.  It actually increases spending.”

The speaker said that President Obama proposed $1.4 trillion in new tax revenue -- an amount too high to pass the House of Representatives, where a majority of Members are still reluctant to increase taxes.  The two leaders spoke Tuesday evening on the phone after the alternative offers moved up and down Pennsylvania Avenue -- a conversation the speaker described as “deliberate.”

“There were some offers that were exchanged back and forth yesterday, and, you know, the president and I had a pretty frank conversation about just how far apart we are,” Boehner said.

Last week, Boehner sent the president a pitch for $800 billion in new revenue, as long as the revenue was achieved through comprehensive tax reform that closed loopholes and capped deductions -- not changes to the tax rates.

“We spoke honestly and openly about the differences that we face, but the president's calling for $1.4 trillion worth of revenue.  That cannot pass the House or the Senate,” Boehner said.  “If you look at our budget, we had no new revenue in our budget.  If you look at the president's budget, he had $1.6 trillion worth of new revenue in his budget.  Listen, we've been reasonable and responsible in our approach to this, and we're going to continue to do that.  It's time for the president to do his part.”

“I was born with a glass half-full,” he continued. “I remain the most optimistic person in this town, but we've got some serious differences.”

Asked whether it might take a day of steep losses in the financial markets to spook enough members into voting for an ultimate package, Boehner declined to speculate but diverted.

“I'm not going to talk about what outside factors could impact these negotiations, but I will say that presidents get elected to lead,” he said.  “We are going to begin to solve our debt problem, and we're not going to be able to solve it by kicking the can down the road and doing all the gimmicks that have been done in the past.  It's time to address our spending problem.”

Just 20 days remain until the fiscal cliff deadline expires.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio