Bud­get talks ap­pear to stall

Nei­ther side shows signs of budg­ing as dead­line looms.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byan­drew­tay­lor

WASHINGTON — Repub­li­cans aren’t budg­ing on tax rates, and Democrats are re­sist­ing steps such as rais­ing the el­i­gi­bil­ity age for Medi­care. Ne­go­ti­a­tions again ap­pear stalled on avert­ing big au­to­matic tax hikes and sweep­ing spend­ing cuts at the end of the year.

There are less than three weeks be­fore the government could ca­reen off this “fis­cal cliff,” but the chief GOP ne­go­tia­tor, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wed­nes­day that “se­ri­ous dif­fer­ences” re­main be­tween him and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama af­ter an ex­change of of­fers and a pair of con­ver­sa­tions this week.

Boehner spoke af­ter a closed-door meet­ing with fel­low GOP law­mak­ers in which he ad­vised them not to make plans for the week af­ter Christ­mas.

Fed­eral Re­serve Chair­man Ben Ber­nanke weighed in as well. He said, “Clearly, the fis­cal cliff is hav­ing ef­fects on the econ­omy,” the un­cer­tainty af­fect­ing con­sumer and busi­ness con­fi­dence and lead­ing busi­nesses to cut back on in­vest­ment.

Nei­ther side has given much ground, and the ex­change of pro­pos­als seemed to gen­er­ate hard feel­ings more than progress. The White House has slightly re­duced its de­mands on taxes — from $1.6 tril­lion over a decade to $1.4 tril­lion — but isn’t yield­ing on de­mands that rates rise for wealth­ier earn­ers.

Boehner re­sponded with an of­fer very much like one he gave the White House more than a week ago that of­fered $800 bil­lion in new rev­enue, half of Obama’s de­mand. Boehner is also press­ing for an in­crease in the Medi­care el­i­gi­bil­ity age and a stingier costof-liv­ing ad­just­ment for So­cial Se­cu­rity re­cip­i­ents.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the two men did not have any fol­low-up talks Wed­nes­day.

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