Obama, Boehner trade barbs as talks on fiscal cliff stall
White House says speaker’s ‘Plan B’ unacceptable.
The president accuses House GOP of letting personal animosity block a fiscal deal. Negotiations stall, and the House speaker’s‘Plan B’may face a vote Thursday.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday accused House Republicans of letting their animosity toward him prevent them from approving a deal to avert the nation’s imminent fiscal crisis, even though the two sides had been close to a compromise days ago.
At the same time, he threatened to veto House Speaker John Boehner’s alternative plan, which could come to a vote in the House today, if it reaches his desk.
“They keep on finding ways to say no as opposed to finding ways to say yes,” Obama said at a midday news conference at the White House. “I don’t know how much of that just has to do with, you know, it is very hard for them to say yes to me. But, you know, at some point, you know, they’ve got to take me out of it and think about their voters and think about what’s best for the country.”
Obama and Boehner have been negotiating behind closed doors to meet an end-of-the-year deadline to settle on a combination of tax hikes and budget cuts that would stave off the round of automatic increases and cuts in January known as the “fiscal cliff.”
On Monday, they seemed close to a deal. But talks stalled the next day after Boehner introduced his “Plan B” that would raises taxes only for those who earn more than $1 million a year, instead of the $400,000 annual income threshold Obama has said he is willing to settle for.
In a report issued Wednesday, the White House said the plan — which would not renew some tax credits aimed at more moderate earners — is unacceptable because it would raise taxes for about 25 million middleclass households while preserving large tax cuts for millionaires, hurting the unemployed and reducing Medicare.
In response, Boehner met with reporters to complain that the Obama offer “fails to meet the test that the president promised the people: a balanced approach.”
Boehner’s bill would make permanent most of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, except for those affecting million-dollar incomes.
“Tomorrow, the House will pass legislation to make permanent tax relief for every American, 99.8 percent of the American people,” Boehner told reporters. “Then the president will have a decision to make. He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”