President Barack Obama's chief budget negotiator, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, said he is confident that Republicans will accept a deal that raises taxes on Americans earning more than $200,000 a year.
“I think we’re going to get there,” Geithner told NBC's David Gregory on 'Meet the Press' Sunday.
The White House wants Republicans to drop their opposition to letting the Bush-era tax rates on high incomes expire as scheduled on Dec. 31. Those tax increases coupled with automatic severe spending cuts could throw the economy back into recession and send unemployment skyrocketing.
President Obama and Democrats in Congress want to extend the tax cuts for anyone making less than $200,000 per year and families making less than $250,000 but let tax rates rise back to Clinton-era levels, reports the New York Times.
“There’s just no reason why 98 percent of Americans have to see their taxes go up because some members of Congress on the Republican side want to block tax rate increases for 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans,” Geithner said on "Fox News Sunday".
“Remember, those tax rates, those tax cuts, cost a trillion dollars over 10 years. Those rates are going to have to go up,” he added. “That’s an essential part of a deal.”
Opinion polls show that most Americans favor raising tax rates on the wealthy and several prominent Republicans including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have backed down from their pledge not to raise taxes.
In a separate appearance on "Fox News Sunday" Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner held firm on his party's commitment to not raise taxes.
"Here's the problem. When you go and increase rates, you make it more difficult for our economy to grow."
Boehner also said that he's not confident that Obama would use the proposed $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue to reduce the deficit. "He's going to spend it," Boehner said, according to Reuters.
Geithner also pressed Republicans to come up with their own plan, saying it was in the hands of the GOP whether or not the US fell off the fiscal cliff.
"That's a decision that lies in the hands of the Republicans that are now opposing an increase in tax rates" for the wealthiest Americans, a key sticking point in negotiations for a broad deficit-reduction deal", Geithner told "Fox News Sunday."
For his part, Boehner sounded equally committed to preventing the budget catastrophe. "I don't want any part of going over the cliff. I'm going to do everything I can to avert that," Boehner said. But he admitted that there remained a wide gulf between the two sides with less than a month to go until the deadline.
"We're nowhere," he added.