WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – As the nation moves closer and closer to the "fiscal cliff," the public is making it known who they will blame if the nation falls off the cliff and into unprecedented austerity.
According to a new Pew Research Center poll, 53 percent of Americans would blame Congressional Republicans for any failure to strike a deal to avert the fiscal cliff/austerity crisis. Twenty-seven percent would blame President Barack Obama for an austerity crisis failure, according to the poll.
Tuesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner responded to the White House with an offer to avert the fiscal cliff that called for $2.2 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years. The Republican offer included: $800 billion in unspecified tax reform; unspecified healthcare program savings of $600 billion; increasing the Medicare-eligibility age to 67 and cut cost of living adjustments to Social Security, among other cuts.
President Obama made his initial offer last week that sought long-term deficit reduction of $4.4 trillion over 10 years, when including the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Republican plan would total $4.6 trillion including the same conditions.
Obama's plan called for raising $1.6 trillion in tax revenues by keeping the middle and lower class tax rates from the Bush tax cuts and allowing the top two percent to revert back to tax rates under the Clinton Administration.
The administration would make $600 billion in cuts to entitlement programs and extend the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits. The White House would also want the ability to raise the nation's borrowing limit unilaterally, which Congress has rejected in the past.
Neither side considered the offers serious and they were the first official shots fired in the negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff, which Congress and the White House created to spur action on the deficit and the national debt.
According to the Pew poll, there's not a lot of hope the fiscal cliff/austerity crisis will be averted with a deal between the Senate/White House and House Republicans. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents say lawmakers can't reach a deal.
Proving the complexity of trying to get a deal done, Tea Party icon, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) blasted Boehner's official proposal saying instead the country should instead just extend the tax rates and replace the defense cuts with reductions in "wasteful spending."
If Boehner loses too many hard-line conservative Republicans from his caucus to voting against a fiscal cliff deal, he will need a near sweep of House Democrats and a good deal of the remaining Republicans to pass anything.
If the Speaker has to go down that route, he will have to make the deal more favorable to win Democratic votes, which could in the end cost him just enough Republicans to keep any deal from passing the House.
On the other side, House Republicans and Democrats across Washington want the Bush tax cuts extended for 98 percent of Americans, but a Senate bill allowing that has yet to be voted on in the House of Representatives.
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