President Barack Obama lowered his tax revenue demand by $200 billion and offered to start tax rate increases at $400,000 in income instead of $250,000, moving closer to a budget deal with House Speaker John Boehner.
Obama’s revised plan would raise $1.2 trillion in taxes in the next decade and cut $1.22 trillion in spending, said a person familiar with the talks. Obama wants a large enough debt ceiling increase for the next two years and would accept a new inflation yardstick that would reduce Social Security cost-of- living increases, said the person, who sought anonymity.
Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor will give House Republicans an update on the negotiations today, said a leadership aide who requested anonymity to discuss the plans.
Boehner’s office rejected the offer late yesterday, and the intensifying talks could collapse. Still, a deal about halfway between the most recent offers could include $1 trillion each in tax increases and spending cuts and allow tax rates for top earners to rise in 2013.
In exchange, Obama would accept some up-front spending cuts, and other scheduled cuts would be canceled. Congress would pursue broader changes next year against the threat of tax increases and spending cuts in 2014.
‘Realm of Possible’
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“They know what’s in the realm of possible and it’s a question of whether they can take the final step to make a deal work,” said Arshi Siddiqui, a former tax aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. “A big deal is going to be hard to sell on both sides, so it’s going to have to be a well-negotiated deal where both sides make real concessions.”
Obama and Boehner are trying to reach an agreement to avoid more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to begin in January, the so-called fiscal cliff. They want to replace the immediate deficit reduction with more gradual changes.
The two are talking about policy changes they would rather avoid. Boehner agreed last week to accept higher tax rates on annual household income above $1 million. Obama moved off the $250,000 threshold he has used for five years and offered to change the cost-of-living calculation for Social Security.
The president and Boehner are still far apart on where to draw the line on tax rates, whether a deal should include economic stimulus spending and how to address the debt limit.
Obama’s offer didn’t adhere to Boehner’s insistence on a dollar of spending cuts for each dollar of debt limit increase, and it’s unacceptable to Boehner, said senior Republican aides who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
The president would set the top tax rates on dividends and capital gains at 20 percent, the person said. Combined with tax increases from the 2010 health-care law scheduled to take effect in January, the top rates would be 23.8 percent.
Obama would return the estate tax to 2009 parameters, with a $3.5 million per-person exemption and a 45 percent top rate.
The dividend proposal matches the bill Senate Democrats passed in July and would raise less money than Obama’s budget, which called for taxing dividends as ordinary income. The estate proposal is less generous than the parameters backed by many Senate Democrats, who want to extend the $5.12 million exemption and 35 percent top rate.
Boehner and Obama have been discussing Obama’s proposal for capping top earners’ tax breaks at the value they would have in the 28 percent bracket, the Republican aides said. That limit, which would raise $584 billion over 10 years, would affect charitable contributions, municipal bonds and other items, and hasn’t advanced in Congress.
Obama’s offer included elements that hadn’t previously been publicly under consideration. His proposal would end three recurring debates in Congress over expiring provisions.
The president’s plan would permanently extend an annual “patch” that prevents expansion of the alternative minimum tax. He would end a payment cut to doctors under Medicare. Also, he would permanently extend dozens of tax breaks that routinely expire, such as a research-and-development tax credit and a deduction for state and local sales taxes.
His plan would achieve $400 billion in savings from health programs, $200 billion from other so-called mandatory spending and another $200 billion from other programs, half in defense.
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