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Bowles distances himself from House Republican fiscal cliff proposal

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House Republican leaders rejected President Obama's proposed fiscal plan and said Dec. 3 that a deal should approximate a framework Erskine Bowles recommended in November 2011.

In a letter (.pdf) to the president, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans noted that Bowles, the co-chair of the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission, had called for more revenue without increasing tax rates. Obama has proposed tax rate increases for incomes of more than $250,000.

Bowles, meanwhile, said Dec. 3 that he no longer endorses the recommendation the House Republicans cite.

"In my testimony before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, I simply took the mid-point of the public offers put forward during the negotiations to demonstrate where I thought a deal could be reached at that time," Bowles said in a a press release.

"Circumstances have changed since then," he added. "It is up to negotiators to figure out where the middle ground is today."

In their letter, Republicans don't quite endorse the recommendations Bowles made then, but they say generating $800 billion in new revenue from tax reform would be a "fair middle ground" as part of a deal that includes entitlement reform.

But they also say that "it would be counterproductive to publicly or privately propose entitlement reforms that you and the leaders of your party appear unwilling to support in the near-term."

Congress and the president have until Jan. 1 to agree to a deal to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax increases. Forty-nine percent of American adults think they won't strike a deal by that date, compared to 40 percent who think they will, according to a poll that The Washington Post and Pew Research Center released Dec. 4.

If no deal is reached, the poll says 53 percent of Americans will blame Republicans in Congress, compared to 27 percent who will blame Obama and 12 percent who will blame both equally.

For more:
- download the House Republican leaders' Dec. 3 letter to Obama (.pdf)

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