NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the so-called “fiscal cliff” gets closer, there is still no agreement on taxes and budget cuts in Washington. No deal means everybody’s taxes will go up in a little less than three weeks.
“Let’s be honest, we’re broke,” House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday.
And with those words Boehner was off and running, attacking President Barack Obama for refusing to agree to cuts in government benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare as part of a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“The longer the White House slow-walks this process the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff,” Boehner said.
The White House wants to tax the rich, households with incomes of $250,000 or more. Boehner and Republicans have said no to tax hikes, but they have been telegraphing a willingness to deal if the White House cuts federal programs.
“Where are the president’s spending cuts?” Boehner said.
“What is required is agreement by Republicans to revenue that includes raising rates on the highest earners,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in response.
“It would be fundamentally unfair and unwise to tell people who spent a lifetime paying into Social Security and Medicare ‘now you don’t get your benefits,’” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said.
“In terms of spending cuts, we are on record in voting for $1.6 trillion in spending cuts,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Without a deal, taxes will go up for all wage earners on Jan. 1, and across the board spending cuts will kick in. All of this has come during the critical holiday shopping season, in a fragile job market.
Retailers said the uncertainty is bad for business and that they’ll be forced to cut jobs if sales are weak.
“Our members report that some of our businesses are starting to be impacted by the extended negotiations,” said National Retail Federation Senior VP David French.
And in the social media world some people are hoping for the next best thing to divine intervention to help forge a deal. A day before Pope Benedict XVI is to begin responding to tweeted questions a Catholic group is asking him to tweet about the fiscal cliff in the hope he will bring some compassion to the debate.
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