President Obama asked for a whole lot in his opening offer to Republicans Thursday, and they rejected it. What was in the proposal offered by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner? A lot of tax increases — and even some spending increases — and not that many cuts. According to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, here are the major items on his wish list:
- $1.6 trillion in new taxes over 10 years, including ending the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000.
- $400 million in cuts to Medicare and other entitlements over 10 years.
- A $50 billion in a new stimulus program, which would include infrastructure spending, relief for people with underwater mortgages, an extension of unemployment benefits, and delay cuts to the amount of money doctors are reimbursed for their Medicare patients.
- Power to raise the debt limit without asking Congress. This demand, of course, would prevent something like the fiscal cliff from happening again, because it was the 2011 debt limit negotiations that created it in the first place.
All this is much, much more than Republicans have publicly said they're willing to accept. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a "step backward." The Bush tax cuts will expire January 1, and Utah Sen. Mike Lee told The National Review that raising taxes on top earners would be "dishonest." Lee expalined, "I’m not going to vote to increase rates… Let me clear, this position is not about a pledge to Grover Norquist. It is about a pledge I made to my constituents, to the taxpayers who elected me. Our problem isn’t a revenue problem, it is a spending problem, and we do not need higher taxes."