There is still no sign of a deal in the negotiations to prevent the US economy from plunging off a so-called 'fiscal cliff', with both sides of politics deadlocked after opening talks to resolve the crisis.
Massive tax hikes and spending cuts are due to kick in on January 1 unless Congress intervenes first.
Both sides of politics agree a plunge over the fiscal cliff would be very damaging to the economy.
But Republicans have already rejected president Barack Obama's opening proposal and say negotiations are deadlocked.
Overnight treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said he could not promise that the cliff could be averted, insisting it was up to congressional Republicans.
"That's a decision that lies in the hands of the Republicans that are now opposing an increase in tax rates," Mr Geithner told Fox News.
House speaker John Boehner, the top US Republican, said later in a separate appearance on the show: "I don't want any part of going over the cliff.
I'm going to do everything I can to avert that." But Mr Boehner scoffed at an opening offer tabled by the White House.
"I was flabbergasted, I've just never seen anything like it.
You know we've got seven weeks between election day and the end of the year and three of those weeks have been wasted.
Right now I would say we're nowhere, period.
We're nowhere," he said.
"The president's idea of a negotiation is roll over and do what I ask.
We need to find common ground and we need to find it quickly." The deal being offered includes an insistence by the president on returning tax rates to Clinton-era levels for the wealthiest 2 per cent of Americans.
There's no surprise in this, we've been proposing this for a very long time," Mr Geithner said.
"The president campaigned on it and I think that's where we're going to end up.
I think there's going to be very broad support from the business community and from the American people for an agreement with roughly that shape," he said.
Dan Senor advised the Republican challenger Mitt Romney during the presidential race.
"One Republican house member said to me, 'A good lesson in negotiating is don't make your opening offer one of humiliation,' which is what Republicans felt the White House had put forth in the last couple of days," he said.
"You know, Republicans have some leverage too, the president has to be worried about his legacy and how he's going to govern through a second term." Bill Kristol writes for the Weekly Standard, and says his money is on the president.
"I just think Geithner is in a stronger position in this respect.
The president is the president, he can manoeuvre, he can say $1.6 trillion and he can say okay $1.1 trillion.
Speaker Boehner has 235 or so members, they don't just hop to it when he decides to move.
He is in a much tougher position structurally, and I think the history of these showdowns is that the White House usually wins," he said.
Sorting out the fiscal cliff is Mr Geithner's final assignment before he leaves the Obama administration.
As for who will take over as treasury secretary in the New Year, the billionaire Warren Buffett has thrown one name in the ring, suggesting banking executive and head of JP Morgan Jamie Dimon would be a good pick.