By Michael A. Memoli
12:59 PM EST, December 7, 2012
WASHINGTON -- Hoping to prod Democrats to offer new concessions on spending and taxes, House Speaker John Boehner on Friday accused President Obama of an effort to "slow-walk" negotiations on the "fiscal cliff" in his zeal to raise taxes.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill at the end of another week that saw little progress in the stalemate between the GOP and the White House, Boehner said Obama had "wasted another week" by refusing to engage after the House leadership put forward a counterproposal.
"This isn't a progress report because there's no progress to report," the Ohio Republican said.
Boehner's camp downplayed a report that he had asked for talks to be narrowed simply to he and the president, though he and Obama appeared to have reopened lines of communication.
Obama and Boehner, the key players who must ultimately bring their respective parties along should a deal be struck, spoke on Wednesday in a phone call that Boehner described Friday as "pleasant" but "just more of the same."
"It's time for the president, if he's serious, to come back to us with a counteroffer," he said. "When is he going to take a step towards us?"
Obama had no public events on his schedule Friday, a day in which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported stronger-than-expected job growth in November. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7%, a nearly four-year low.
Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to have lunch with a group of middle class families as part of an ongoing PR effort by the White House to pressure Republicans to extend lower tax rates on the first $250,000 of families' income.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a news conference about an hour after Boehner's, asked why the House was not still in session to handle such an effort.
"Why are we not here to even debate the middle-income tax cut? Could it be because the Republicans are holding the middle-income tax cuts, as they have all along, hostage to tax cuts for the wealthy?" she said.
"This is a moment of truth. The clock is ticking. Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. But in many homes across America, it's a very, very lean time."