Boehner and Obama Meet, But Fiscal Cliff Progress Hinges on Entitlements

The House Speaker says Obama needs to lay out detailed cuts before cliff negotiations can continue.

President Barack Obama acknowledges House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio while speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, as he hosted a meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress to discuss the deficit and economy.
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Speaker of the House John Boehner announced Tuesday he's still waiting to hear back from the White House on what specific spending cuts the Obama administration would make to entitlements in order to avoid the fiscal cliff.

"The longer the White House slow walks this process, the closer the economy gets to the cliff," Boehner said on the House floor.

[More: Republicans Release Plan to Avoid Cliff]

Democrats and Republicans have quibbled over the details of how to avoid $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled to hit in January and no substantive agreements have emerged.

President Barack Obama has said he'd veto any plan the does not raise taxes on families making more than $250,000. Republicans have said they'd be willing to put revenues on the table by reforming the tax code, capping deductions and closing loopholes, but only in exchange for deep cuts to entitlements.

Boehner met with Obama Sunday in a meeting he described as "cordial," but details surrounding the White House negotiations have been kept quiet.

"Discussions with the White House are taking place, but we have no detail to share about the substance of those conversations," Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman said in an E-mailed statement. "The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer, and we continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the 'balanced' approach he promised the American people."

[Read: House Republicans Rip Boehner After Committee Reshuffling]

Boehner has been adamant that White House cuts to entitlements must go deeper than Obama's first proposal.

"Let's be honest, we're broke," Boehner said. He added even if the president allowed the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the top 2 percent of Americans, "we would still see red ink for as long as the eye could see."

Democratic leaders pushed back against Boehner's statement.

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip, said he was "disappointed" by Boehner's request, adding the White House outlined more detail in their plan than Republicans. Boehner's doubling down on his party's plan seems to run counter to what Americans would like to see.

A Gallup poll released this week revealed 70 percent of Americans favor not a Republican or Democratic proposal, but a compromise to solve the country's financial woes.

[View: Political Cartoons About the Fiscal Cliff]

The poll also showed that nearly 40 percent of Americans have a positive perception of how the Democrats are handling the negotiations, while only 26 percent say they approve of the way Republican leaders have managed the crisis.

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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at lfox@usnews.com.