Boehner looks for deal with Obama

Fis­cal cliff

Austin American-Statesman - - NEWS - Con­tin­ued from A

House Repub­li­cans, Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette said Boehner told law­mak­ers he’s “go­ing to call the pres­i­dent and he’s go­ing to go down and talk to him and maybe they can ham­mer some­thing out.” There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse from ei­ther the White House or Reid’s of­fice.

The leg­is­la­tion was crafted to pre­vent tax in­creases set to kick in on Jan. 1, 2013, on tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans. But an­other pro­vi­sion that would have let rates rise for those at the up­per in­come range — a vi­o­la­tion of long-stand­ing Repub­li­can orthodoxy — trig­gered the op­po­si­tion of anti-tax law­mak­ers in­side the party.

The abrupt turn of events left lit­tle time for di­vided government to pre­vent across-the-board tax in­creases and deep spend­ing cuts from tak­ing ef­fect in the new year. Econ­o­mists say the com­bi­na­tion could threaten a re­turn to re­ces­sion for an econ­omy that has been re­cov­er­ing slowly.

The House will not meet again un­til af­ter Christ­mas, if then, and Se­nate is ex­pected to meet briefly Fri­day, then re­con­vene next Thurs­day.

The fis­cal cliff is­sue has dom­i­nated the post­elec­tion ses­sion of Congress. More broadly, it marks the end of a tu­mul­tuous twoyear pe­riod that be­gan when tea party-backed Repub­li­cans roared into the House de­mand­ing lower taxes, only to be asked by their lead­er­ship to bless higher tax rates at up­per in­comes.

Boehner said Thurs­day night’s leg­is­la­tion — he’d dubbed it Plan B — marked a move to “pro­tect as many Amer­i­can fam­i­lies and small busi­nesses as pos­si­ble from the tax hikes that are al­ready sched­uled to oc­cur” with the new year.

Re­fer­ring to one of the core themes of Obama’s re-elec­tion cam­paign, he said the pres­i­dent has called for leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect 98 per­cent of the Amer­i­can peo­ple from a tax hike. “Well, to­day we’re go­ing to do bet­ter than that,” he said of the mea­sure that raises to­tal taxes by slightly more than $300 bil­lion over a decade. “Our bill would pro­tect 99.81 per­cent of the Amer­i­can peo­ple from an in­crease in taxes.”

Democrats said that by keep­ing tax rates un­changed be­low $1 mil­lion — Obama wants the level to be $400,000 — Repub­li­cans had turned the bill into a tax break for the wealthy. They also ac­cused Repub­li­cans of craft­ing their mea­sure to im­pose a tax in­crease on 11 mil­lion mid­dle class fam­i­lies.

“This is a ploy, not a plan,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich. He ac­cused Repub­li­cans of be­ing “deeply cyn­i­cal,” say­ing the leg­is­la­tion would scale back ed­u­ca­tion and child tax cred­its.

A com­pan­ion bill on the evening’s House agenda, meant to build GOP sup­port for the tax bill, called for elim­i­na­tion of an es­ti­mated $97 bil­lion in cuts to the Pen­tagon and cer­tain domestic pro­grams over a decade. It cleared the House on a par­ti­san vote of 215-209 and is an up­dated ver­sion of leg­is­la­tion that passed a lit­tle more than six months ago. Those cuts would be re­placed with sav­ings to­tal­ing $314 bil­lion, achieved through in­creases in the amount fed­eral em­ploy­ees con­trib­ute to­ward their pen­sions and through cuts in so­cial pro­grams such as food stamps and the health care law that Obama signed ear­lier in his term.

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