In making a counteroffer to President Obama, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other senior Republicans suggested that a framework laid out by Democrat Erskine Bowles last year could serve as a starting point for talks aimed at averting the year-end “fiscal cliff.”
That framework aims to raise new revenue through an overhaul of the tax code. It also calls for slicing $600 billion from federal health programs, in part by increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, and saving $200 billion by applying a less generous measure of inflation to all federal programs, including Social Security benefits, according to GOP aides.
For the first time, Boehner managed to get his entire leadership team — including conservative champions such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), the 2012 vice-presidential candidate — to publicly sign on to a plan that explicitly calls for new tax revenue. Republicans say they are willing to extract all the new tax money from households earning more than $250,000 a year, the same group Obama wants to target with higher tax rates. But the GOP plan would raise the money by wiping out deductions instead of raising rates.
In a meeting with reporters, Boehner called it “a credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House.”
But Democrats said the proposed cuts to social safety-net programs would outweigh higher taxes. And they said Republicans have not made clear how they would raise the additional tax revenue without imposing new burdens on the middle class.
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