Taxes on the wealthy are going up, House Speaker John Boehner conceded Wednesday in challenging President Barack Obama to sit down with him to hammer out a deal for avoiding the fiscal cliff.
Obama, however, continued to insist on Republicans first ensuring no tax hike for anyone but the top 2% of Americans as a first step toward a broader agreement on tackling the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.
The statements reflected how negotiations on the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to occur on January 1 -- the fiscal cliff -- have evolved since Obama's re-election last month.
Republicans once opposed to any new revenue in their quest to shrink government now realize Obama's victory and public support for the president's campaign theme of higher taxes on the wealthy leave them with little negotiating leverage.
Less than four weeks from the fiscal cliff, GOP leaders face a choice: Agreeing to Obama's demand to hold down tax rates on most Americans while allowing higher rates on top earners, or being blamed for everyone's taxes going up in 2013.
The major unresolved question of negotiations involving the White House and congressional leaders is whether eliminating tax deductions and loopholes -- as proposed by House Republicans -- can raise enough revenue without hitting middle-class Americans too hard.
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