Geithner, the administration’s point man for negotiations, was slightly more optimistic while saying the ball was in Boehner’s court. But the treasury secretary also said he didn’t expect a counteroffer right away, as Republicans work to sort out tensions within the party in the wake of bruising national elections that left Democrats in charge of the White House and the Senate.
Boehner acknowledged in his interview, aired Sunday, that he wasn’t happy with public remarks by Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who said he was ready to go along with Obama’s plan to renew expiring income tax cuts for the majority of Americans and negotiate the rates on top earners later.
“They’re trying to figure out where they go next,” Geithner said of Republicans, “and we might need to give them a little time to figure out where they go next.”
He called the back-and-forth “normal political theater,” saying all that’s blocking a timely deal is the GOP’s reluctance to accept higher tax rates on the wealthy.
“It’s welcome that they’re recognizing that revenues are going to have to go up. But they haven’t told us anything about how far rates should go up ... (and) who should pay higher taxes,” Geithner said.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that she will try to force a vote on the Senate-passed bill favored by Democrats to avert a fiscal cliff. But she was unlikely to line up enough Republicans to succeed.
Obama’s political team ramped up its efforts, blasting out an email Sunday night urging supporters to pressure Congress to extend tax cuts that would add up to about $2,000 for a middle-class family of four.
Stephanie Cutter, who was Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said in the email that the president was trying to get Congress to “do the right thing and act before the New Year, but he needs our help. We’ve got a good track record here: When we make our voices heard and urge Congress to take action — whether it’s about health care, student loans, Wall Street reform, or ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ — they listen.”