The White House slammed House Speaker John Boehner’s so-called “Plan B” on Wednesday, part of a two-day pushback that has been notably aggressive.From communications director Dan Pfeiffer’s statement and four-page analysis blasting the plan, it’s clear that the White House is growing concerned at the leverage they could lose if Boehner’s plan works.
On Tuesday, frustrated with the pace of negotiations on the fiscal cliff, Boehner introduced “Plan B,” which he intends to bring to the House floor for a vote. It includes tax hikes for incomes above $1 million, while the Bush-era tax cuts would continue for all other income brackets.
It’s a tactical strategy for Boehner that has about as equal a chance of backfiring as it does working. On one hand, Boehner is conceding to Obama on some tax rates — and he risks a revolt from conservatives in his own party.
On the other hand, it puts Democrats in a very politically awkward position. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi proposed the exact same floor vote in May — though she says now that she was trying to “smoke out” then which Republicans would sign on.
But if Boehner does get enough votes in the House to pass the bill, it would shift the burden of the fiscal cliff onto Senate Democrats, who would no longer be in a position to say that the GOP is protecting millionaires. It’s also a signal that Obama’s concession on tax hikes Monday was viewed as a sign of weakness by Boehner — that he can get Obama to relegate even more.
In a strange twist, it was the White House that chided Boehner for failing to include any spending cuts in his plan.
“The deficit reduction is minimal, and perversely, given its authors, solely through tax increases with no spending cuts,” Pfeiffer said.
The White House said Boehner’s plan would save millionaires an average of $50,000 a year in taxes, wouldn’t extend unemployment benefits, and wouldn’t address the rest of the issues relating to the fiscal cliff, like the sequester.
Obama’s veto threat essentially means that he will not accept a deal outside of a comprehensive solution — even one that his party supported six months ago. Meanwhile, talks between Obama and Boehner have reportedly ground to a halt as Boehner puts his chips in “Plan B.”
Brendan Buck, Boehner’s press secretary, called the White House’s pushback “bizarre and irrational.”
“The White House’s opposition to a back-up plan to ensure taxes don’t rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day,” Buck said in a statement. “Republicans have always said a broader, ‘balanced’ plan is the ideal solution, and we have put one forward. In the absence of a ‘balanced’ solution from the President, however, we must act to stop taxes from rising across the board in 12 days. If Democrats disapprove of this bill, then there is a simple solution: amend it in the Senate and send it back to the House.”
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