Boehner: time for Obama to act on fiscal cliff

With 27 days to go before the US economy could plunge over the so-called fiscal cliff, Republicans warned President Barack Obama on Wednesday that he must take the lead in the "critical" next 72 hours and offer a viable solution.

The White House and opposition Republicans are struggling to thrash out a deal that would avoid a set of crippling tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts that kick in on January 2 if the two sides fail to come to terms on how to reduce America's skyrocketing debt.

Obama presented an initial offer last week, while Republicans led by House Speaker John Boehner presented their counter-offer. Both have been rejected outright -- at least publicly -- by the other side.

"Now we need a response from the White House. We can't sit here and negotiate with ourselves," Boehner told reporters after a meeting with his Republican House caucus.

Boehner pointed to hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues that Republicans presented in their offer as a sign that they are "ready and eager" to negotiate in good faith with the White House.

But Boehner insisted that the plan Obama has put forward, which includes some $1.6 trillion in new taxes, "couldn't pass either house of the Congress."

Kevin McCarthy, the House's number three Republican, said he saw an opportunity for Obama to show leadership.

"I think the next 72 hours are critical. If he sits back and continues to play politics, that will be your answer to where we're going," McCarthy said.

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