House Republicans Send Counteroffer to Obama

by Robert Costa

The House GOP’s message to Obama: We’re not buckling on rates.

In a letter this afternoon, House Republican leaders issued their counteroffer to President Obama’s initial fiscal-cliff proposal, which was presented by Treasury secretary Tim Geithner last week. “We continue to oppose” tax-rate increases, they write. “We cannot in good conscience agree to the [Geithner] approach, which is neither balanced nor realistic.”

Instead, House Republicans prefer the “Bowles plan,” an alternative authored by Erskine Bowles, President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff. “New revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates,” they write. “On the spending side, the Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending.”

“This is by no means an adequate long-term solution,” they continue. “Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs. We believe it warrants immediate consideration.”

A House leadership aide tells National Review Online that the Bowles framework is “sensible,” even though it won’t appeal to every Republican. “We’re resisting the temptation to simply counter their budget with our budget. If they’re serious, here is an independent, balanced idea from a third party.”

The letter was signed by Speaker John Boehner, majority leader Eric Cantor, Republican whip Kevin McCarthy, Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, and other members of the party’s leadership team. You can read it here.

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