In a sign of trouble ahead in resolving the “fiscal cliff”, Democratic and Republican leaders on Wednesday claimed new but conflicting election “mandates” on how and when to deal with tax increases and spending cuts that threaten a U.S. recession.
Amid promises not to draw lines in the sand, congressional leaders did just that, staking out well-worn bargaining positions despite President Barack Obama’s appeals for compromise after his election victory.
The leader of the Senate’s Democratic majority, Harry Reid, said he wanted to avoid the tax increases except for the wealthy and he would like to see substantial measures enacted during the lame-duck session of Congress that starts next week.
His Republican counterpart in the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, said that while he was open to tax reform, and saw considerable common ground on that, he continued to find tax increases unacceptable.
Boehner repeated his previous objections to moving forward during the lame-duck session, except with temporary, stop-gap legislation to avoid the cliff.
Earlier on Wednesday, Obama phoned both Boehner and Reid, to express his commitment to work together with them on reducing deficits, taxes and boosting job growth.