The White House hasn’t yet seen a “realistic proposal” from Republicans that would raise the kind of revenue President Obama is seeking, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
"Math tells us that you can't get the kind of balanced approach that you need without having rates be part of the equation. We haven't seen a proposal that achieves that, a realistic proposal that achieves that," Carney said.
Obama would be open to proposals that closed loopholes or capped deductions, Carney said, so long as raising the top tax rate remains on the table. Obama has called for $1.6 trillion in higher revenues. During the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations, Republicans were considering a plan that would involve $800 billion in new revenue. So far during the most recent fiscal cliff negotiations, House Speaker John Boehner has insisted that new revenue must come from broad tax reform and economic growth.
Some Republicans argue that it’s possible to raise sufficient revenue through closing loopholes and capping deductions alone. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., told ABC's This Week on Sunday that capping deductions in the $30,000 to $40,000 range could raise around $1 trillion in revenue over 10 years.
Boehner’s office fired back against Carney almost instantly, pointing to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget report that found closing loopholes and capping deductions could squeeze the same amount of money from top earners as the president’s proposal.
Carney also said that the White House doesn’t believe Social Security should be on the table as legislators discuss trimming entitlement programs.
"Social Security is not, currently, a driver of the deficit--that's an economic fact,” Carney said. “While the president supports engaging with Congress on a separate track to strengthen Social Security in the long term when it comes to entitlements, we need to look at Medicare and Medicaid.”
Those seeking to parse the White House’s public statements shouldn’t assume that when the White House says “entitlement cuts,” it is putting Social Security on the table, Carney said. Liberal groups have dug in their heels in opposition to any kinds of cuts to entitlement programs.