GOP rejects ‘cliff’ offer

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, after private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the fiscal cliff negotiations. Boehner said no substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House” in the past two weeks.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Enlargephoto

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, after private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the fiscal cliff negotiations. Boehner said no substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House” in the past two weeks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – House Speaker John Boehner flatly rejected a $4 trillion Obama administration plan to avoid going over the fiscal cliff that was presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a private meeting Thursday.

Publicly, Boehner said he is “disappointed” with the offer, but he offered no details. Privately, three Republican congressional aides familiar with the president’s offer cast it as an “outrageous” proposal that surprised the speaker and has set back negotiations on how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” coming at the end of the year, when all of the Bush-era tax rates expire and the first of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years are triggered.

The combined effect of the two – without action by Washington – threaten to push the U.S economy back into a recession.

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said GOP lawmakers are “the only thing preventing us from reaching a deal that averts the fiscal cliff” and a tax hike for most Americans.

“The president has already signed into law over $1 trillion in spending cuts and we remain willing to do tough things to compromise, and it’s time for Republicans in Washington to join the chorus of other voices…who support a balanced approach that asks more from the wealthiest Americans,” Brundage said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also offered a different take Thursday on his private meeting with Geithner, which he described as “nice” and agreeable. “Democrats are on the same page,” he said.

Obama and Boehner are viewed as the chief negotiators for their parties on reaching a deal. The GOP aides, who spoke on background because they are not authorized to speak on the record, described the administration’s proposal as a nonstarter that was not reflective of the ongoing conversations since congressional leaders had their one and only meeting with President Obama two weeks ago.

© 2012 USA TODAY. All rights reserved.

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