Negotiations are back on. If they were ever actually off.
Image by J. Scott Applewhite / AP
WASHINGTON — House Republicans put their criticisms of President Barack Obama's fiscal cliff package to paper Monday with an offer of their own.
The $2.2 trillion Republican package includes $800 billion in revenue from tax reform and $600 billion in health care savings, among other proposals.
The plan, detailed in a letter that was sent from House Republicans to the White House on Monday, is based in principle on a proposal originally engineered by Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of the president's deficit-reduction commission.
"This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform," House Republicans wrote in their letter to the White House. "The Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs."
The offer will likely reinvigorate negotiations on how best to avert the fiscal cliff, which had stalled briefly after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner brought the administration's plan to Capitol Hill.
But the Republicans' counteroffer leaves a few obvious points of contention to be addressed. For example, Democrats have rejected the notion of revenue solely from tax reform, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office does not factor such revenue in its estimates.
Nevertheless, it is a step back toward the negotiating table — and a nod toward those Democrats who had urged the GOP to make the next move.
Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Republicans needed to submit a counteroffer to the White House for talks to move forward.
"I have a bit of negotiating advice for Republican leaders: You’re doing it wrong," Reid said on the Senate floor Monday.
Last week, Boehner said fiscal cliff talks were in "a stalemate" after he and his party panned the president's proposal; meanwhile, Democrats blamed Republicans for stalled negotiations and pointed in particular to the lack of a concrete counteroffer from GOP lawmakers.