The fight between Democrats and Republicans over how to address the nation’s fiscal health continues even after a week of meetings between President Barack Obama and Republicans on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday.
“It’s always a good thing to engage in more conversation,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told interviewer Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week,” according to a transcript. “But when you get down to the bottom line, the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not going to get very far.”
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Obama urged Democrats to be open to revisions in entitlement programs and pressed Republicans to put increases in revenue onto the negotiating table in the meetings with lawmakers in his Democratic-majority Senate and Republican-led House throughout the week of March 11.
Lawmakers plan to move forward this week on competing fiscal 2014 budget blueprints as the White House continues to push for a broader agreement that would help economic recovery.
“I don’t know whether we can come to a big agreement,” Boehner said in the ABC interview. “If we do, it’ll be between the two parties on Capitol Hill. Hopefully we can go to conference on these budgets, and hope springs eternal in my mind.”
Alan Krueger, the Obama administration’s chief economist, said in a Friday Bloomberg Television interview that economic growth would be in the range of 2 percent to 3 percent this year. He also said that agreement in Congress that removed the immediate threat of default has helped boost the stock market, and emphasized an improving economy.
Last week, the S&P 500 advanced 0.6 percent to 1,560.70, its third straight weekly gain. The Dow climbed for a fourth week, adding 117.04 points, or 0.8 percent, to 14,514.11. The 30-stock index posted 10 straight days of gains through March 14, the longest winning streak since 1996.
The Senate budget proposal laid out last week by Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, would generate almost $1 trillion in new revenue while protecting Medicare and expanding Medicaid health-care coverage for more low-income Americans. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, last week proposed a plan for balancing the government’s books in 10 years by cutting $4.6 trillion.
Obama is making the case that the U.S. isn’t facing an immediate debt crisis. Further cuts to the nation’s budget deficit will occur if lawmakers don’t act to reverse the sequestration that went into effect on March 1, with $85 billion in automatic spending cuts this year alone. Republicans are pressing for a deal that would restructure entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare.
“We do not have an immediate debt crisis,” Boehner said. “But we all know that we have one looming. And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable.”
While the cuts have drawn criticism across the federal government, lawmakers have few pathways for major changes. The reductions total $1.2 trillion over nine years. Government agencies as diverse as the Justice Department and the Federal Aviation Administration are planning employee furloughs and cutbacks to adjust to the new funding levels.
The Obama administration has urged lawmakers to come to an agreement that would avert, or reshape, the spending cuts. Krueger, in the Bloomberg Television interview, said that the cuts would reduce economic growth by 0.6 percentage points.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the economy will lose 750,000 jobs this year if the automatic spending cuts stay in effect through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year.
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