The Straits Times
Published on Dec 08, 2012

Biden says ready to respond to any serious 'fiscal cliff' offer


ARLINGTON, Virginia (REUTERS) - The White House will respond to "any serious offer" from congressional Republicans to prevent the United States (US) "fiscal cliff" and "theoretically" could negotiate how much tax rates must rise for top earners, Vice-President Joe Biden said on Friday.

Mr Biden, who was meeting with people at a diner who described how an increase in middle-class tax rates would affect them, laid out two criteria for a deal to avoid looming spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes: an increase in tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and an end to political gamesmanship over raising the debt ceiling.

"The President's ready to respond to any serious offer put on the table," Mr Biden told reporters when asked to respond to Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner's comment that President Barack Obama was pushing the country toward the fiscal cliff.

"That is not The President's position," Mr Biden said. "We have laid out where we are. There has been in a sense a referendum" on the need for higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and for an end to stalemates over the debt ceiling, he said.