White House: Time for Republicans to make counteroffer to Obama

The White House is pressing Republicans to make a counteroffer to President Obama’s proposal to avert a collection of scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts that could cause a recession next year.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said House Republicans should lay out their plan if they find Obama’s offer of a $1.6 trillion tax hike unacceptable.

“If they have ideas that are different from ours ... we can't guess what they are,” Carney said. “They have to tell us.”

Carney added that a GOP proposal needed to include an acknowledgment that rates on the top 2 percent of earners would rise, saying "the American people overwhelmingly disagree" with Republicans who want to maintain Bush-era tax rates for all taxpayers.

"Rates have to rise, and the Republicans have to acknowledge that," Carney said.

The White House press secretary insisted again that Obama would not entertain any proposal that did not allow the tax rates for the wealthiest to expire.

"The president will not sign a bill that extends the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2 percent. Full stop," Carney said.

And Carney insisted the onus was on the GOP to lay out an alternative proposal.

"We've been explicit and specific, we look forward to the specifics from the Republicans," Carney said.

Carney also blasted a so-called “doomsday” plan as “entirely unacceptable,” even though the plan would do as the White House has demanded and extend middle-class tax rates while allowing rates on wealthier households to rise.

Under the plan, House Republicans would allow Democrats to pass a Senate bill that extended the Bush-era tax rates for incomes under $250,000 a year while raising taxes on incomes above that threshold.

But the House GOP’s plan would not extend the debt ceiling or unemployment benefits, and it would not avoid $1.1 trillion in automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic budgets set to begin next year.

This would force the president back to the negotiating table early next year for additional talks in which the GOP could have more leverage.

On Monday, Carney warned that the White House viewed such a move as “just not acceptable, and it's just bad policy.”

“It is entirely unacceptable to have a repeat performance of what the American people watched in horror in the summer of 2011,” Carney said.

Carney added that such a move would be tantamount to lawmakers holding “the economy hostage, to threaten default on the American economy ... in the name of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner laid out Obama’s fiscal plan last week. Republican leaders in Congress have rejected that proposal out of hand, with Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerConservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ohio) telling Fox News on Sunday he was “flabbergasted” by the proposal.

“I looked him and said, 'You can't be serious,’ ” BoehnerJohn BoehnerConservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE said. “I've just never seen anything like it. You know, we've got seven weeks between Election Day and the end of the year. And three of those weeks have been wasted with this nonsense.”

On Monday, Carney said it was Republican leader's responsibility to lay out their vision for a plan.

“Rates have to rise, and the Republicans have to acknowledge that,” Carney said, adding that “we haven't seen alternatives from them.”

Later in the day, the president will hold a Twitter town hall with supporters, answering questions on the social media network about the fiscal cliff.

The president is also expected to greet congressional leaders at a White House Christmas Party on Monday night, although Carney would not say if he planned to speak about the deal with Boehner at the event.

—This story was posted at 1:58 and updated at 2:23 p.m.