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Boehner: 'Serious differences' separate GOP from Obama

House Speaker John Boehner delivers remarks at a news conference on current fiscal cliff negotiations, saying his latest call with the president was "open and honest" but they still have "some serious differences."


House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that "serious differences" continue to separate Republicans from President Barack Obama on work toward resolving the impending "fiscal cliff" at the end of this month.

Speaking this morning on Capitol Hill, the Ohio Republican said that his conversation Tuesday with Obama was "open and honest," but that a new proposal put forth by the White House could not muster enough support to pass through Congress.

"The president and I had a deliberate call yesterday and we spoke openly about the differences we face," Boehner told reporters following a meeting with fellow Republicans. "The president has called for $1.4 trillion dollars in revenue, that cannot pass the House or the Senate."

Two sources familiar with the Obama-Boehner call yesterday described it to NBC News as a "tense" conversation. Amid dueling, new proposals, Boehner proposed a permanent extension of existing tax rates for the wealthy, a Democratic source familiar with the call told NBC's Kristen Welker.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who spoke with President Barack Obama yesterday, arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP caucus, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sources confirmed Tuesday that the administration's new offer included $1.4 trillion in new revenue and $600 billion in spending cuts -- slightly less revenue and slightly more cuts than Obama had initially proposed.

The level of spending cuts and the method of raising new revenue -- along with the manner in which savings might be found in entitlement programs -- have confounded lawmakers and the White House for the better part of the last two years. Obama has insisted that higher tax rates for the wealthy, a priority on which he campaigned, are essential to a final deal. Republicans argue that enough revenue can be raised through the elimination of tax loopholes and deductions.

Still, Boehner did try to publicly project some optimism as to whether a deal could be reached before the end of the year, when the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that constitute the fiscal cliff are set to take effect. He counseled lawmakers to plan carefully around the holidays and to expect to return to work shortly after Christmas.

"Listen I was born with a glass half full, I remain the most optimistic person in this town but we got some serious differences," he said.

NBC's Kristen Welker and Luke Russert contributed reporting.