Obama wants Republicans to only extend the Bush-era tax rates for the middle class, allowing rates to rise on the wealthy. Republicans though want to extend the lower rates for all income brackets, a proposal Obama has rejected.
The president has taken his message to the public that going over the cliff would harm the economy and slam middle-class families with an average $2,000 tax hike.
In his most recent event Monday, Obama met with auto workers at a Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Mich. Last Friday, the president visited a middle-class family in Virginia that he said would be hit hard by higher taxes, and earlier this month he visited a toy factory in suburban Philadelphia, where he warned that Republicans would be giving middle-class families a “lump of coal” if they allowed tax rates on working families to rise.
GOP senators on Tuesday said the president should return to Washington and focus on negotiations.
“The real question is, where is the president?,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said at the same press conference with Cornyn. “I mean, he’s out on the campaign trail. You got every day we’re a little bit closer to the fiscal cliff. Every day Republicans are here, Speaker [John] Boehner [R-Ohio] is here, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] is here ready to negotiate, ready to deal, ready to do business, ready to avoid what everybody agrees would be a disaster.”
“The president seems to be content with just travelling around the country, doing a victory lap or something when he ought to be here in Washington, D.C., sitting across the table from the people who can help us avoid what would be a very, very bad situation for our country economically,” he continued.
Both Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) suggested talks were at a standstill.
The Speaker said the president needed to “get serious” and come to the table ready to identify spending cuts.
Reid, however, blamed infighting between Republicans on how to proceed in talks as the reason negotiations had stalled.
The Nevada senator said it would be “extremely difficult” for negotiators to reach a deal before Christmas.