Boehner says fiscal cliff talks make 'no progress'

The Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, says there's "no progress to report" in resolving the the impasse over attempts to reach a federal budget deal.

Boehner says it's up to President Barack Obama to come back with a new offer that will allow Congress and the White House to reach agreement on spending cuts and tax increases that would avert the so-called fiscal cliff that takes effect in three weeks are stalled.

‘The White House has wasted another week” in its “slow walk” to the edge of the fiscal cliff, Boehner said.

He said the latest offer from the president includes twice the tax increase Obama campaigned on during the election campaign, and more spending.

Obama must be more flexible, Boehner said, asserting “my way or the highway” won’t get political leaders to an agreement.

Obama and Boehner spoke on the phone Wednesday, their first known conversation in nearly a week.

Neither side provided details of the call, but the White House said the lines of communication with Capitol Hill Republicans were open and there had been multiple conversations between staff.

Unless the president and Republicans reach a deal, George W. Bush-era tax rates will expire on all income earners on Jan. 1.

Obama wants to continue them for 98 per cent of Americans, while letting them expire on the upper income earners.

If Republicans try to block that effort, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said earlier this week, the administration will "absolutely" let the country go over the fiscal cliff.

The size of the problem is so large it can't be solved without rates going up," he told CNBC on Wednesday.

Geithner drew a fierce response from Republicans. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah called his statement "stunning and irresponsible."

He added, "Going over the fiscal cliff will put our economy, jobs, people's paychecks and retirement at risk, but that is what the White House wants, according to Secretary Geithner, if they don't get their way."

Economists inside and outside the government warn that failing to reach agreement on taxes and spending could land the economy back in recession.

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