Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Sunday defended President Obama’s proposal to avert tax increases for the middle class and avoid massive federal spending cuts, saying it is a “balanced” and “detailed” plan and that Republicans still have time to make proposed changes but time is running out.
“We laid out a very detailed plan,” Geithner said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Geithner was followed on the show by House Speaker John Boehner, who said fiscal negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans are going “nowhere.”
Geithner, the White House’s top negotiator with congressional Republicans in the budget talks, said Democrats realized Republicans are having a difficult time garnering support for increases to generate revenue that will help reduce the country’s estimated $16 trillion debt.
The president’s plan calls for $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $600 billion in savings from changes in mandatory spending programs, including Medicare, and $200 billion in spending -- ranging from public works projects to help for the unemployed and struggling homeowners, administration officials said.
Boehner, the chief negotiator for congressional Republicans, scoffs at the idea of $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue – roughly double what was previously suggested.
“What do you think would happen if we gave the president $1.6 trillion of new money?” Boehner asked. “He’d spend it.”
Should Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement, the sequestration package kicks in Jan. 1 – including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts – and adds up to $1.2 trillion in taxes and spending cuts to defense and other programs over the next 10 years.
The president’s plan also includes new stimulus spending and gives him the ability to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval.
Republicans “are in kind of a tough position,” Geithner told Fox. “We may have to give them a little more time. … But what we cannot do is figure out what works for them."
He also said the country could go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” by next month and that it could be “very damaging” to most Americans.
Boehner agreed that no deal would hurt the economy but said, “We are not going to kick this can down the road.”