Senior House Republican: Expect a cliff dive

A top Republican tax-writer predicted Friday that the U.S. economy will go over the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas) said that, after Thursday’s failure of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Plan B,” it was up to President Obama and Senate Democrats to do the heavy lifting on a tax-and-spending deal.

Brady, appearing on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital,” said House Republicans had tried for months to lay out a path forward on taxes and restraining entitlement programs. 

“It’s clear that bridge isn’t going to be built next week from the House side, so now it’s really up to the president and the Senate Democrats to start building the bridge from the Senate side,” Brady told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt.

But Brady, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, added that “with the clock ticking, it just becomes increasingly unlikely we can come together before New Year’s Day."

Late Thursday, Boehner pulled his “Plan B,” which would have extended expiring tax rates for income up to $1 million a year. Since then, Boehner and other top Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have called on the White House and Democrats to take the lead on averting the looming tax hikes and spending cuts.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other top Democrats said Friday that Republicans needed to return to the negotiating table to help hammer out a cliff deal.

For his part, Brady said that Republicans had been far more flexible than Democrats in cliff negotiations.

With all current tax rates set to expire in less than two weeks, Boehner recently signaled that he could agree to letting only rates for the highest earners increase. Obama, in his most recent offer, floated the idea of a less generous measure of inflation — used to calculate entitlement payments — that has been sharply criticized by liberals. 

“Let me just tell you, I think he hasn’t come close to matching what we’ve agreed to do, which is to take revenue — significant amounts of revenue — and put them on the table,” Brady said. 

Brady also said that he believed the eligibility age for both Social Security and Medicare needed to rise, but that the onus was now on Democrats to offer specifics on entitlements. 

“We want authentic spending cuts and a commitment on fundamental tax reform,” Brady said. “And we just haven’t seen that."