Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that House Republicans would introduce a bill to raise tax rates for millionaires as a “Plan B” in case his negotiations with President Obama on averting the fiscal cliff fail to produce an agreement.
At a press conference with Republican leaders, Boehner insisted Republicans would continue to work with the White House to find a balanced solution to the “fiscal cliff” that also cuts spending. But in the meantime, Boehner said, the House would soon hold a vote in an effort to protect as many American taxpayers as possible from the tax hikes scheduled to hit on January 1.
“Our hope continues to be to reach an agreement with the President on a ‘balanced’ approach that averts the fiscal cliff,” said Boehner. “What we’ve offered meets the definition of balance, but the President is not there yet. The White House offer yesterday was essentially $1.3 trillion in new revenues for only $850 billion in net spending reductions. That’s not balanced, in my opinion. So at the same time that we’re going to continue to talk with the President, we’re going to also move Plan B.”
Boehner was referring to a White House offer in which Obama lowered his tax revenue demand by $200 billion and offered to start tax rate increases at $400,000 in income instead of $250,000 a year (see Obama Concessions Signal Potential Bipartisan Tax Rate and Budget Deal).
“I think we all know that every income tax filer in America is going to pay higher rates come January 1 unless Congress acts,” Boehner added. “So I believe it’s important that we protect as many American taxpayers as we can. Our Plan B would protect American taxpayers who make $1 million or less, and have all of their current rates extended.”
Boehner emphasized that he continues to hope that House Republicans can reach a broader agreement with the White House to reduce spending “as well as have revenues on the table.”
“I think it’d be better for our country, but at this point, having a backup plan that makes sure that as few American taxpayers are affected by this increase as possible—moving down that path is the right course of action for us,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated that President Obama would not accept Boehner’s Plan B, and he noted the bill would not be able to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, unlike the House.
“The President has put a balanced, reasonable proposal on the table that achieves significant deficit reduction and reflects real compromise by meeting the Republicans halfway on revenue and more than halfway on spending from where each side started. That is the essence of compromise,” said Carney. “The parameters of a deal are clear, and the President is willing to continue to work with Republicans to reach a bipartisan solution that averts the fiscal cliff, protects the middle class, helps the economy, and puts our nation on a fiscally sustainable path. But he is not willing to accept a deal that doesn’t ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors.
"The Speaker’s ‘Plan B’ approach doesn’t meet this test because it can’t pass the Senate and therefore will not protect middle class families, and does little to address our fiscal challenges with zero spending cuts," Carney added. "The President is hopeful that both sides can work out remaining differences and reach a solution so we don’t miss the opportunity in front of us today.”
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