With a 'fiscal cliff' deal appearing closer than ever, House Speaker John Boehner has offered a fallback 'Plan B'.
On Tuesday, hours after receiving a compromise proposal from Obama that essentially split the difference between the two sides' starting positions, Boehner announced a fallback "Plan B" in which the House would vote to raise taxes on those earning more than one million dollars a year.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the proposal appeared designed at the minimum to put Democrats into a political bind, provide cover for the Republicans in the event the negotiations fail, and, in so doing, seek to exert more pressure on the president.
The potential floor vote on a tax increase, moreover, could indicate how much support the Speaker could expect for a tax increase as part of a broader compromise with the president.
According to the report, while Boehner said he would continue to negotiate a deal for avoiding the fiscal cliff of 600 billion dollars in higher taxes and spending cuts slated to begin January 1, his Plan B was quickly rejected by the White House and Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate.
Together with a compromise position on the estate tax and higher rates on capital gains and dividends, among other tax measures, the president's offer would raise 1.2 trillion dollars in higher taxes over the next decade, at the midpoint of the president's initial offer of 1.6 trillion dollars and Boehner's opening offer of 800 billion dollars.
The White House plan offers 930 billion dollars in spending reductions for entitlement programs and broader government spending, with an additional 290 billion dollars in lower interest costs that Republicans are loathe to count as lower spending, that together total 1.2 trillion dollars.
At 930 billion dollars, the figure is roughly between the administration's 300 billion dollars opening offer for entitlement reductions and the speaker's opening bid of 1.4 trillion dollars.
"Any movement away from the unrealistic offers the president has made previously is a step in the right direction," said Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, adding: "but a proposal that includes $1.3 trillion in revenue for only $930 billion in spending cuts cannot be considered balanced."
The White House pointed out that the president's latest offer "reflects real compromise" in its narrowing of the differences between the Democratic and Republican positions.
Boehner, too, said his backup plan would not preclude further fiscal cliff negotiations.
"This is a difficult time for Americans," Boehner said Tuesday, when asked if the shootings in Newtown, Conn. were impacting the fiscal cliff talks.
"That's why we continue to have conversations with the White House. I've continued to have hope that we can reach an agreement," he added.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada said the speaker's fallback plan would not, in fact, protect anyone because it could not pass the Senate.
"Speaker Boehner's 'Plan B' is the farthest thing from a balanced approach," Senator Reid said in an e-mailed statement, adding: "It will not protect middle-class families because it cannot pass both Houses of Congress." (ANI)