Boehner’s ‘Plan B’ vote draws fire from all sides

Bill raises taxes only on in­comes above $1 mil­lion.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Lisa Mas­caro and Michael A. Me­moli Chicago Tri­bune

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” on the bud­get talks, bring­ing to a vote his pro­posal to raise taxes only on in­comes above $1 mil­lion, ran al­most im­me­di­ately into stiff re­sis­tance Tues­day.

Con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans pushed back against it, the White House re­jected the ap­proach and House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called it “dead on ar­rival.”

Boehner’s de­ci­sion, shared be­hind closed doors dur­ing a morn­ing meet­ing of rank-and-file GOP law­mak­ers, was an abrupt shift af­ter the Ohio Repub­li­can and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had nar­rowed their dif­fer­ences in talks that both sides de­scribed as op­ti­mistic. The pro­posed vote could come as soon as Thurs­day.

By call­ing up the leg­is­la­tion for a vote, the speaker is try­ing to build mo­men­tum to­ward a res­o­lu­tion as talks over a broader deficit deal con­tinue. He wants to avoid hav­ing his party be blamed for a tax in­crease on most Amer­i­cans in the new year, which would hap­pen if no agree­ment is reached.

“We have to stop what­ever tax-rate in­creases we can,” the speaker told law­mak­ers, ac­cord­ing to pre­pared re­marks sup­plied by a source fa­mil­iar with the talk but not au­tho­rized to dis­close it. “In the ab­sence of an alternative, as of this morn­ing, a mod­i­fied Plan B is the plan. At the same time we’re mov­ing on Plan B, we’re leav­ing the door wide open for some­thing bet­ter.”

The speaker made it clear that he is not cut­ting off talks with Obama as they pur­sue a package to avert the “fis­cal cliff” of au­to­matic tax hikes and spend­ing cuts in the new year.

White House press sec­re­tary Jay Car­ney dis­missed the speaker’s Plan B in a state­ment, say­ing it “can’t pass the Se­nate and there­fore will not pro­tect mid­dle-class fam­i­lies.” He added that Obama “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.”

Obama cam­paigned on ex­tend­ing tax breaks for house­hold in­come of less than $250,000 a year, although he has sought com­pro­mise this week with Boehner, in­di­cat­ing a will­ing­ness to raise that thresh­old to $400,000.

Boehner is seek­ing to launch a leg­isla­tive ping­pong game be­tween the House and Se­nate over the Plan B bill. If he is able to pass the mea­sure in the House — which re­mains un­cer­tain — Repub­li­cans ex­pect that the Se­nate, con­trolled by Democrats, would likely amend it to re­flect Obama’s pri­or­i­ties on taxes and stim­u­lus spend­ing on long-term un­em­ploy­ment in­surance, and send it back to the lower cham­ber.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Boehner bill could not pass ei­ther cham­ber.

As Boehner out­lined his strat­egy Tues­day, con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans bris­tled at be­ing asked to raise the high­est tax rates, now at 35 per­cent, to 39.6 per­cent for those earn­ing more than $1 mil­lion a year. Tax rates on cap­i­tal gains and div­i­dends would also rise on those wealthy house­holds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.