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Toomey pushes Republican "Fiscal Cliff" plan

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 03 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 03 2012 09:41:03 PM CST

Lehigh Valley Sen. Pat Toomey is pushing a new Republican plan to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff," but the proposal already appears to be dead in the water.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Lehigh Valley Sen. Pat Toomey is pushing a new Republican plan to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff," but the proposal already appears to be dead in the water.

Days after President Obama presented his own plan to avoid the set of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, the White House was pushing Republicans to come out with their own plan.

"What we hope for is some specificity from Republicans," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Monday, they got it. Toomey pushed the plan in a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon.

"We still have time to solve this problem," he said. "I want to solve this problem."

Republicans claim their plan will save more than two trillion dollars. It saves $800 billion by closing tax loopholes, $600 billion from a Medicare overhaul and health care cuts, and another $600 billion in other, unspecified, spending cuts.

The Medicare overhaul could include a higher eligibility age and means-testing, according to House Republican aides.

Otherwise though, the plan lacks specifics on exactly what to cut. More importantly, it also refuses to raise tax rates on the wealthy.

The White House says that's a deal-breaker.

"What we're not going to do is extend those tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans," said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos. "Remember, those cost one trillion dollars over ten years."

But Toomey insisted tax reform alone will raise enough money, and again resisted calls to raise rates on those earning more than $250 thousand a year.

"Any efforts to increase revenue should only come in the context of pro-growth tax reform that would minimize any damage done to the economy," he said.

If you believe both sides' estimates, the President's plan raises more new money, but the Republican plan saves more on Medicare and Medicaid -- two major debt drivers.

Either way, the clock is ticking. Billions in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts automatically kick in on January 1 if a deal is not reached.