House speaker calls fiscal cliff progress 'disappointing'

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
House Speaker John Boehner says "no substantive progress" has been made in two weeks in “fiscal cliff” talks between the House and White House -- and that he was disappointed that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday did not deliver any specific plan for cutting spending in a meeting at the Capitol.

The meeting with Geithner, which included Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was “frank and it was direct,” said Boehner to reporters. Boehner also said he was making this negative assessment after talking with the president by phone Wednesday night, in what he described as “a very nice conversation,” that was also “direct, and straightforward.”

“I was hopeful we’d see a specific plan for cutting spending. We’d sought to find out today what the president is really willing to do,” said the Ohio Republican of the meeting with Geithner Thursday.

But he said no specifics were offered, and that “right now, all eyes are on the White House.”

"I'm disappointed where we are -- disapppointed what's happened over the last two weeks," said Boehner.

Stocks erased their early gains to turn mixed Thursday after Boehner spoke, according to CNBC. But the speaker insisted he was not walking away from talks and remained hopeful a deal can be reached, even though he complained Democrats have yet to get serious about spending cuts.

“Listen, this is not a game. Jobs are on the line. The American economy is on the line. And this is a moment for adult leadership,” said Boehner. “Campaign-style rallies and one-sided leaks in the press are not the way to get things done here in Washington,” a reference to Obama’s plans to stump for tax cuts.”

Boehner said he has made it clear Republicans would put revenues on the table to move things along – but that revenue was only on the table if there were serious spending cuts as part of this agreement. “It has to be part of the agreement,” he said.

“We know what the menu is – what we don’t know is what the White House is willing to do to get serious about solving our debt crisis,” he complained.

Asked if Republicans would consider a level of discretionary spending cuts as some downpayment to get to longer-range solutions on entitlement and tax reform, Boehner said, “There are a lot of options on the table -- including that one.”

But as for the amount of spending cuts, he said, “I don’t think it’s productive for either side to lay out hard lines in terms of what the size of the spending cuts ought to be. There are a lot of options on how you can get there.”

“There’s a framework that we’ve presented the White House two weeks ago -- (a) downpayment would include spending cuts and it would include revenue setting up a process for entitlement reform next year and tax reform next year,” said Boehner.
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