Boehner on 'Cliff' Talks: 'We're Almost Nowhere'
House Speaker John Boehner lashed out Friday at President Barack Obama, saying negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" are "almost nowhere."
Boehner spoke after Republicans disclosed that the White House was $1.6 trillion in tax increases up front, as well as $50 billion in additional stimulus spending. (Read More: Speaker Boehner Discusses 'Fiscal Cliff.')
Boehner said the plan would be a "crippling blow" to an economy that is still struggling to find its footing.
"There's a stalemate. Let's not kid ourselves," the Ohio Republican told reporters. "Right now, we're almost nowhere,"
Even so, he added, he was determined to continue working with Obama.
A half-trillion-dollar combination of governmental spending cuts and tax increases for all Americans would automatically go into effect in January, threatening to send the country back into recession. Obama is pressing for an extension of Bush-era tax cuts only for individuals making less than $200,000 or families making under $250,000. He wants a tax increase for the wealthiest Americans.
A tax increase on middle class families would be like a "lump of coal" for Christmas, Obama said Friday during a campaign-style visit to a toy factory in Pennsylvania.
During the flight taking Obama to Pennsylvania, White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressed surprise by the Republican reaction because so much of the plan had already been proposed.
One new feature in the Obama plan is a call for increasing the nation's debt limit without the need for congressional approval. Under last year's debt ceiling deal, Obama simply had to notify Congress that he was raising the debt ceiling, a move that could be blocked only if both houses of Congress approved resolutions of disapproval that Obama could veto. The administration wants a permanent extension of the debt ceiling with a similar legislative arrangement and with no offsetting spending cuts, as demanded by Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he "burst into laughter" when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration proposal on Thursday because it was clear on tax increases but vague on spending cuts, according to the Weekly Standard.
The political uncertainty helped push markets lower Friday. (Read More: Stocks Lower, Led by Techs.)
Boehner, however, is confronting challenges not only from Democrats, but increasingly from other Republicans, some of whom have advocated greater flexibility than their leadership on Obama's demand that Congress approve tax increases for the wealthy as well as an extension of tax cuts for the middle class as part of a deal.
(Read More: What Is the Fiscal Cliff?)
Most Republicans oppose raising any tax rates.
While Republicans are unhappy with the Obama's opening bid of deficit reduction measures, drawn mostly from previous presidential budget proposals, they are nervously eyeing the markets, as well as polls indicating that the public is likely to blame Republicans if there is no deal at year's end to avoid the tax increases and severe spending cuts that economists say could tip the economy into a recession.
What the president is doing, Republican Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska told MSNBC on Thursday, "is setting us up to be the fall people for going over the fiscal cliff. And, frankly, going over the fiscal cliff is a win for the president. So either way, we're going to get it."
However, despite the uncertainty 31 days before the deadline, commentators on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" were optimistic a deal would be reached.
Said former Republican Sen. Judd Gregg: "I think at some point, maybe — hopefully sooner rather than later, I bet it's later, they go into a room and sit down, they work off their framework they had two years ago, they reach an agreement."
And Democrat Ed Rendell, the former Pennsyvania governor, added: "What's going to happen. I think the president's learned that -- a lesson that when you're negotiating, you don't put your opening offer on the table and make it exactly what you want to wind up with."
Obama's trip took him to a plant in Hatfield, Pa., operated by The Rodon Group, a plastic-injection molding company that supplies, among other things, Tinkertoys and Angry Birds building sets for children. White House officials hoped the trip would build momentum for the president's case.
"As we move into holiday season, Democrats and Republicans should come together to renew middle-class tax cuts so families have more certainty at this critical time for our economy," the White House said in announcing Friday's trip.
(Read More: Complete Coverage of the Fiscal Cliff)
—CNBC's Eamon Javers contributed to this report.