Hoyer: Obama's debt plan proposal to Republicans not a 'take or leave it' offer

President Obama's year-end "fiscal cliff" offer is just the starting point of a much larger negotiation in which both sides will have to make sacrifices, the second-ranking House Democrat said Friday.

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Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said the president's proposal — delivered to GOP leaders Thursday by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — is not "an ending point," and called on Republicans to make a counter-offer. 

"This is a democratic process, and they have views and we're going to have to accommodate their views, and hopefully they're going to have to accommodate our views," Hoyer said during his weekly press briefing in the Capitol.

"I don't think it's a take-it-or-leave-it offer. I think it is, frankly, responsive to what the Republicans said they wanted, which is a specific offer," Hoyer added.

Since the elections, GOP leaders have grumbled about the absence of a specific Democratic plan for cutting spending in the name of deficit reduction. In response, Geithner on Thursday delivered a package of spending cuts and tax hikes to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — an offer that Republicans quickly rejected.

“Despite claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” Boehner said after meeting with Geithner. “No substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House in the last two weeks." 

On Friday, unbeknownst to Hoyer, Boehner said the negotiations have reached a "stalemate."

Hoyer said he was "disappointed" with Boehner's earlier criticism of Obama's plan, arguing that the president "has put on the table a very specific offer."

"That doesn't mean they have to like the offer," Hoyer said. "It does mean that they should put a very specific offer back on the table.

"What the Republicans want is, they want give on their stuff first," Hoyer charged. "The Republicans need to come back with something where the math works ... in my view, the reason they're not putting a bill forward is because their arithmetic doesn't work.

"We've just gone first," he added.

Hoyer also doubled down on the Democrats' push to have Boehner bring to the floor a Senate-passed bill extending the Bush-era income tax rates on all incomes below $250,000 a year — a proposal Boehner has rejected. Hoyer said the election was a referendum on hiking taxes on incomes above that level, though he stopped short of demanding the rate rise to the Clinton-era level of 39.6 percent.

"That was very much a part of the election, with clear delineation of positions between Mr. Obama and Mr. [Mitt] Romney," Hoyer said. "Mr. Obama won."