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Boehner: We're at a 'stalemate' in debt talks

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday declared a “stalemate” in negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff, a day after the White House delivered an offer that Republicans panned as “not serious.”

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“There’s a stalemate. Let’s not kid ourselves,” Boehner said at a quickly scheduled Capitol news conference to respond to President Obama’s campaign-style speech in Pennsylvania.

“Right now, we’re almost nowhere,” the Speaker added.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Thursday presented congressional leaders with an initial offer based on the president’s budget that, according to Republicans, included $1.6 trillion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to entitlement spending.

Boehner on Friday said the offer was “not a serious proposal” and that the White House had asked for new spending that would exceed the cuts it proposed upfront.

Negotiators are trying to find an agreement to stave off a combination of tax hikes and automatic spending cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.

Boehner criticized the White House for waiting three weeks after the election to present its offer. He said he remained willing to meet and speak with the president, but he did not say whether any further talks were scheduled.

The Speaker reiterated his opposition to increasing income tax rates, calling that “the wrong approach,” although he stopped short of saying the GOP would block any proposal that included higher rates.

Boehner, who abruptly shifted his tone on the state of negotiations Thursday, made no effort to downplay the impasse and suggested it was not simply the kind of predictable posturing that has become the norm in negotiations in Washington.

— Updated at 1:08 p.m.