Saturday, December 16, 2017

Obama, Boehner exchange barbs in fiscal talk

WASHINGTON — Fiscal cliff talks at a partisan standoff, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner swapped barbed political charges Wednesday yet carefully left room for further negotiations on an elusive deal to head off year-end tax increases and spending cuts that threaten the national economy.

Republicans should "peel off the war paint" and take the deal he's offering, Obama said sharply at the White House. He buttressed his case by noting he had won re-election with a call for higher taxes on the wealthy, then added pointedly that the nation aches for conciliation, not a contest of ideologies, after last week's mass murder at a Connecticut elementary school.

But he drew a quick retort from Boehner when the White House threatened to veto a fallback bill drafted by House Republicans that would prevent tax increases for all but million-dollar earners. The president will bear responsibility for "the largest tax increase in history" if he makes good on that threat, the Ohio Republican declared.

In fact, it's unlikely the legislation will get that far as a divided government careens into the final few days of a struggle that affects the pocketbooks of millions and blends lasting policy differences with deep political mistrust.

Boehner expressed confidence the Republicans' narrow so-called Plan B bill would clear the House today despite opposition from some anti-tax dissidents. The leadership worked to shore up the measure's chances late in the day by setting a vote on a companion bill to replace across-the-board cuts in the Pentagon and some domestic programs with targeted reductions elsewhere in the budget, an attempt to satisfy defense-minded lawmakers.

With Christmas approaching, Republicans also said they were hopeful the tax measure could quickly form the basis for a final bipartisan "fiscal cliff" compromise once it arrives in the Senate.

Democrats, in the majority in the Senate, gave no indication of their plans.

On paper, the two sides are relatively close to an agreement on major issues, each having offered concessions in an intensive round of talks that began late last week. But political considerations are substantial, particularly for Republicans.

In the talks to date, Obama is now seeking $1.2 trillion in higher tax revenue, down from $1.6 trillion. 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.

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.

By contrast, Boehner's most recent offer allowed for $1 trillion in higher taxes over a decade, with higher rates for annual incomes over $1 million. He's also seeking about $1 trillion in spending cuts.

Comments
Kitija Laksa’s 11 consecutive treys an NCAA record

Kitija Laksa’s 11 consecutive treys an NCAA record

Turns out, USF junior Kitija Laksa wasn't merely unconscious from behind the 3-point line Friday night, she was unprecedented.Laksa's 11 consecutive 3-pointers in the Bulls' 108-48 home romp of Southern University broke the NCAA's single-game record ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
College Football Bowls: Tampa Bay Times staff picks for Week 1

College Football Bowls: Tampa Bay Times staff picks for Week 1

College football bowl season gets underway Saturday with six games. Here's the Tampa Bay Times college football coverage team's picks for those and five other games the first week of bowl season. GameMartin Fennelly @mjfennellyTraci Johnson @TBH...
Updated: 2 hours ago
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Dec. 11, 2017

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Dec. 11, 2017

Several states have fought education equity lawsuits. Rare have been the court rulings that say judges have no room to judge whether the constitutional language for a "high quality" public education is being met. It happened in Florida. Catch up on t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 10:55 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 10:55 a.m. EST
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Updated: 14 minutes ago

Ex-wife of Lorenzen Wright charged with murder in 2010 death

Authorities say the ex-wife of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright has been charged with first-degree murder in his death more than seven years ago
Updated: 23 minutes ago

Ex-wife of Lorenzen Wright charged with murder in 2010 death

Authorities say the ex-wife of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright has been charged with first-degree murder in his death more than seven years ago
Updated: 23 minutes ago
South Africa ruling party's fight for its future kicks off

South Africa ruling party's fight for its future kicks off

South Africa ruling party's fight for its future kicks off in the face of possible split
Updated: 25 minutes ago

Vatican issues new rules for relics in saint-making process

The Vatican's saint-making office has updated its procedures for authenticating and conserving relics for would-be saints, issuing new rules that govern how body parts and cremated remains are to be obtained and venerated
Updated: 27 minutes ago

Syrian troops march into rebel-held province of Idlib

Syrian government forces have entered small parts of the northwestern rebel-held province of Idlib in one of their deepest incursions into the area where President Bashar Assad's government almost has no presence
Updated: 27 minutes ago