House Speaker John Boehner plans to introduce a bill on the House floor that would include tax increases on incomes above $1 million, he said this morning at a press conference.”We’re going to move to Plan B,” Boehner said. “Our Plan B would protect American taxpayers who make $1 million or less.”
That means, for the first time publicly, Boehner acknowledged he would be open to increased tax rates in a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Boehner said he hoped to avoid tax hikes on as many people as possible ahead of a Jan. 1 deadline. Boehner will meet with House Republicans later this afternoon to push support for the plan.
Boehner emphasised that he was not breaking off talks with President Barack Obama on a larger, “balanced” budget deal. But he expressed frustration with the White House’s pace of negotiations.
“We do not have a balanced plan when the President is calling for $1.3 trillion in revenue and only willing to put up $850 billion in cuts over 10 years,” Boehner said. Last night, Boehner’s office put the amount of spending cuts in Obama’s plan at $930 billion.
“What we’ve offered meets the definition of balance,” Boehner said. “But the White House is not there yet.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney panned Boehner’s plan in a statement:
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. 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. 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.
On Monday night, the two sides appeared closer to a deal. Obama moved more toward Boehner on the revenue side, proposing a plan that would hike taxes on incomes above $400,000 instead of his previous demand of $250,000.
Boehner, meanwhile, has moved toward the president in the past few days by agreeing to propose tax-rate increases as part of his plan for the first time — though he opened by offering to raise rates on incomes above $1 million. On Sunday, Boehner reportedly offered to lift the debt ceiling for one year.
Still, Boehner’s office chided its lack of balance.
“Any movement away from the unrealistic offers the President has made previously is a step in the right direction, but a proposal that includes $1.3 trillion in revenue for only $930 billion in spending cuts cannot be considered balanced,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement Monday. “We hope to continue discussions with the President so we can reach an agreement that is truly balanced and begins to solve our spending problem.”
Politico reported this morning that Boehner told Republicans during a private meeting that “Plan B” is one that he hopes will stop many tax hikes as possible before a Jan. 1 deadline. From Politico:
“For weeks, Senate Republicans — and a growing number of you — have been pushing for us to pivot to a ‘Plan B,'” he will say. “I think there’s a better way. But the White House just can’t seem to bring itself to agree to a “balanced” approach, and time is running short. Taxes are going up on everyone on Jan. 1. They’re baked into current law. And we have to stop whatever tax rate increases we can. In the absence of an alternative, as of this morning, a ‘modified Plan B’ is the plan.”