Wednesday 22 November 2017

Obama threatens to pile blame on Republicans for 'fiscal cliff'

Peter Foster Washington

BARACK Obama has threatened to use his inauguration speech in January to heap blame on the Republicans for forcing the United States over the "fiscal cliff" if a deal is not reached before the New Year.

The threat came as the Republican Party's negotiating position was left weakened by the failure of its lead negotiator, the House Speaker John Boehner, to win support from the rank and file for raising taxes on those earning $1m (€.76m) a year.

The two parties remain divided over how to rein in America's trillion-dollar-a-year annual deficits, with Republicans demanding cuts to welfare programmes and Democrats arguing for tax increases on the wealthy.

Despite both sides giving some ground, negotiations between Mr Obama and Mr Boehner have failed to close the gap, increasing the likelihood America will go over the cliff, triggering $680bn in spending cuts and tax hikes.

The threat by Mr Obama to shame the Republicans in his inaugural address on January 21, reported by 'The Wall Street Journal', reflects his determination to appeal to public opinion which favours his plan to force through tax rises on the wealthy.

Although both sides have compromised – Mr Obama cutting his demand for additional tax revenues from $1.6tn to $1.2tn and Mr Boehner agreeing to raise marginal tax rates – the negotiations have been testy.

Congress is now on holiday until December 27, when members will return to discuss how to avoid going over the fiscal cliff on December 31. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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