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If there was any doubt that the Obama administration means business about the Bush Tax cuts expiring on incomes over $250,000, here's news: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner just drew a distinct line in the sand: No rate hikes no Deal. Period.

Geithner made the Sunday-coddle-Repubs shows (ABC, FOX, NBC, CNN) and said explicitly that the Obama administration's recent offer to Congress was balanced and the fiscally responsible thing to do. He insisted that there HAD to be rate hikes (not some fancy accounting gimmick) on the top 2% before the WH would consider any deal.

Here's the video from CNN State of the Union (N.B. there's an ad preceding the actual interview)

In the interview with Candy Crowley, Giethner reiterated the Administration's position that any adverse consequence of the fiscal deal falling through would land squarely on the heads of the Republicans

If they are going to force higher rates on virtually all Americans because they're unwilling to let tax rates go up on 2 percent of Americans, then, I mean that's the choice they're going to have to make
Money quote:
Candy Crowley...They've (Republicans) said no to increasing rates

Geithner: But they know this...there's not gonna be an agreement without rates going up

Crowley: You'll go off the fiscal cliff if the republicans say sorry there's no way we're gonna raise rates on the wealthy, you guys are gonna go off the cliff?

Geithner: If Republicans are not willing to let rates go back up (on the 2%) and we think they should go back to the Clinton levels when the American economy did exceptionally well, then there will NOT be an agreement

Geithner also rejected Boehner's & McConnells spurious charge that the WH did not put forward any "serious" offer. He said the $600 billion in new spending cuts plus the substantial cuts negotiated in the 2011 debt ceiling deal, plus automatic cuts kicking in at the end of this year added up to “a very substantial packet of reforms"

He also defended the $50 billion mini-stimulus for infrastructure spending as affordable and a “modest investment in making this country stronger.”

Now all the admin is waiting for the Republicans to put their offer on the table. In a subtle but unmistakable snarky acknowledgement of Boehner's untenable position Geithner said:

They're in a hard place. And they're having a tough time trying to figure out what they can do, what they can get support from their members for. That's understandable. This is very difficult for them, and we might need to give them a little more time to figure out where they go next.”
Translation: We are prepared to go over the cliff while we wait for them to come to their senses.

Geithner On Fox

Tweets from Treasury Dept

Update II

Meanwhile Grover Norquist is promising a more ferocious Teaparty II than Teaparty I

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